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Outline and assess Marxist explanations of crime and deviance.

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Introduction

Julie Wilcox Outline and assess Marxist explanations of crime and deviance. In looking at the Marxist explanation of crime and deviance one must also look to the non-sociologist explanations and those of other different groups in order to come to an informed view of the subject. The non-sociologist definition of crime and deviance would be that deviance is uncommon behaviour, something that offends the morals or the majority of society, without being harmful or serious enough to be criminal. Whereas a criminal act is an act which causes harm to someone else enough to warrant a decision-maker passing a law which forbids the act. The Marxist theory in general splits society in half, the rich and the poor. With the poor being exploited by the rich. This theory appears to be the basis for all Marxist perspective including the Marxist explanations of crime and deviance. Karl Marx stated that crime was the product of poverty and the traditional Marxist view regarding the cause of crime amongst the working classes is competition and the desire to acquire wealth. The working class people want the 'things' that they see the middle classes with but they cant afford them so they resort to stealing. The explanation of the cause of the majority of crime is given as the people fighting back against the oppression of a corrupt capitalist society. ...read more.

Middle

This leans more towards the Marxist view that law is the reflection of the will of the powerful. The social constructionalists believe that deviant behaviour is only defined as such through the behaviour of other people. They consider the main cause of crime to be groups imposing their definitions on others. According to the social constructionist labelling theory there is not much difference between deviants and non-deviants, the only reason they are labelled deviant is because other people see their behaviour as unusual or abnormal but this theory asks the question who is the deviant. The labelling theory would agree with the Marxist perspective that once people are given labels with certain expectations they will live up to those labels or society will see them according to their labels, for example social class. Functionalist Emile Durkheim argued that crime is necessary to society as it allows boundaries to be re-enforced. Durkheim believed that society is held together by shared economic values, that when a person is arrested for a crime they are clarifying the boundaries of acceptable behaviour and giving society an opportunity to reaffirm these values thus safeguarding a continued social cohesion. Erikson agreed with this theory pointing out the drama of a court room scene and the media involved in a court case again publicising the boundaries as well as condemning the criminal act. ...read more.

Conclusion

Policing is selective there is a higher presence inner city areas, targets are raised and more people are arrested and discriminated against because of their age race or financial background. This results in manipulated statistics as shown in the research by Hall et Al. Functionalist Hirschi asked the question who don't people commit crime suggesting that without social pressure crime would not be deemed deviant and society would break down. From a totally different perspective Marxist Steven Box agreed that without the controlling agencies capitalist society would break down suggesting that the law enforcement agencies and judiciary system serve only to keep the proletariat working in order to provide economic security for the bourgeoisie. A breakdown of the agencies of control would lead to crime, which would risk the positions of the middle classes. The Marxist explanation of crime and deviance is exactly that a view from one section of society. The area of crime and deviance is so vast with so many different opinions to come to a complete explanation one would have to look at all views and form a personal opinion. None of the perspective can be deemed right or wrong each has aspects that could be considered completely biased as well as aspects that could be merged into other perspectives. The Marxist view that the ruling classes create and uphold the laws to protect their position in society could be considered more biased and less flexible than most but again that would be down to personal opinion. ...read more.

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