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Realist approaches are unlike any other approach. They don't concentrate on the causes or crime and why people commit crime, instead they emphasise solving crime, which requires practical solutions

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Realist approaches are unlike any other approach. They don't concentrate on the causes or crime and why people commit crime, instead they emphasise solving crime, which requires practical solutions. They argue that other theories have made no contributions in trying to solve crime. They criticize other approaches for, sympathising and romanticising with the criminal, ignoring the victims of crime and the damage they suffer and failing to produce practical solutions to crime. However, there are two approaches to realism. New right realism and new left realism. These two approaches are from very different roots. Right realists believe that people make rational choices to commit crime. They suggest that people will choose to commit crime when the opportunity or situation is there and the benefits of the crime outweigh the costs. In support of these views is James Q Wilson, 'In thinking about crime' (1975). Wilson provides the practical solutions to these concerns by suggesting that harsher sentences and more police are the answer to crime. Therefore if punishments were greater and there was a greater chance of getting caught then less people would commit crime. However, controversially Wilson believes that such an approach can have only a limited impact. In reality, the chances of getting caught for a particular crime are small. If offenders believe that they are not going to get caught, or if punishments only take place long after offences then even serve penalties will not discourage people. Another contribution that the right realists make to the study of crime is the argument to prevent the disintegration of communities. Where strong communities exist, they can deter crime, because people who are disgraced by being involved in crime will loose their standing in the community. ...read more.


Young concluded that 'women are not only less likely to go out after dark, but also stay in more than men because of fear of crime.' However, criticising these victimisation surveys is Stephen Jones (1998). Jones believes that the emphasis on street crime means that left realists are neglecting corporate crime. Therefore they are in fact helping to continue the capitalist system by ignoring the crimes of the rich and powerful and co-operating with the government. Similarly feminists criticise left realists for ignoring particular problems of crime for women. Nevertheless left realists do not deny the importance of white-collar crime and corporate crime and accept that they are commonplace and serious. Therefore Lea and Young answered their criticisms in recent victimization studies by including questions on such crimes. However, in return they attack back at Marxist views by suggesting they concentrate too much on these types of crimes and exclude others. Left realists have also answered feminist criticisms by including questions in victim studies on crimes such as sexual assaults, sexual harassment and domestic violence. Another contribution that left realists make to the role of crime is their explanation for ethnic crime. Just as they believe that the official statistics on the rise in crime reflect a real change, they also believe that statistics on ethnic offenders are not entirely untrue. Evidence of this is supported by Lea and Young, who attack Gilroy's statement that the disproportionate number of black males convicted of crimes in Britain was caused by police racism. Lea and Young argue that it is difficult to believe that the predominance of blacks in the official figures is entirely a consequence of discrimination by the police. ...read more.


While also, they take the victim's accounts of their fear of crime and do not ask the victims of the causes of crime, where instead they impose their own explanations. Furthermore, left realists only really take account of the views of certain types of victims. Their studies have been concentrated on urban areas where crime rates are high. This might give a misleading impression of how harmful crime is, since it neglects suburban and rural areas where crime has much less of an impact on people's lives. Also criticising left realists are right realists. In particular Wilson, attacks of what he took to be a conventional view about crime amongst social scientists and denies that trying to get rid of poverty will lead to major reductions in crime. He points out the many poor people, e.g. those who are sick or elderly do not commit crimes, and so poverty itself cannot be considered a cause of crime. In conclusion, the contribution realist theories make to crime is a very complex one. Left and Right realism both emphasise that it is why people commit crime and the practical solutions to crime that is important, but they both stem very different ideas. Right realism focuses on the emphasis of social control, the legal system being too weak and the victims not protecting themselves enough. While left realism stresses the importance of finding the real reasons why people commit crime and the role of poverty and crime. Therefore even though left and right realists both concentrate on the victims of crime and how to solve crime there solutions couldn't be more different. Outline and Assess the contribution of realist theories to the study of crime Page 1 of 6 ...read more.

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