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Critically evaluate Marxist approaches to crime and deviance.

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Introduction

Critically evaluate Marxist approaches to crime and deviance Marxism became increasingly influential in sociology during the 1970's, partly due to the failure of functionalism that promised to provide answers that functionalists failed to provide. Marxism sees society based on an economic infrastructure that incorporates the relations of production and means of production. The other aspects of society, known as the superstructure is based on top of this infrastructure and are determined by it. They see society containing basic contradictions, which means that they cannot survive in their existing form. (Which involves the exploitation of one social group by another.) They see this exploitation to disappear once a revolution occurs, where everyone will be liberated and will be free from oppression. Classical Marxism, being a structural approach, shares common assumptions with functionalists such as they accept official statistics and that the working class become criminals, but see capitalism as brutalising the working class and for this reason has changed them from the normal. Classical Marxists see crime as to be an automatic process and not problematic. Nor do they see agencies of social control as problematic, but automatically serving the ruling class. ...read more.

Middle

Their assumptions include the following: 1. If you want to understand crime, you have to look at the material base of society 2. If you look at capitalist societies, the fundamental characteristic is that of massive inequality of wealth and power 3. It supports the radical transformation of society to a more socialist society, which then developed into the FULL SOCIAL THEORY OF DEVIANCE. This saw: a) You have to understand how power and wealth are distributed in society b) Sociologists must consider the conditions surrounding individuals who chooses to commit a crime c) To consider the meaning behind the act d) To then look at the social reaction to the act e) Then link the social reaction to the wider society and explain it in terms of this f) Then the consequences of the label on the individual so labelled has to be looked at g) And finally, a full explanation of deviance requires a fusion of all six points. Jock young acknowledged points (c), (d) and (f), however failed to explain why the teenagers took the drugs in the first place. To answer this question, we have to refer to the other points. ...read more.

Conclusion

It only covers some deaths, and doesn't see such things as killing in wars as illegal. It can be seen that the new criminology can be credited in that it synthesises structure and action together. It focuses on moral panics and links this to the wider society. It also shows how we give consent to things we normally wouldn't such as the murder law. However, the new criminology is idealistic. It suggests that crime is socially constructed and that it doesn't exist, and trivialises everything that people DO actually experience in increased crimes. It also suggests that criminals are freedom fighters; that they are only rebelling against the powerful. Most crimes are committed against the powerless not the powerful, therefore doesn't consider the victims of the crime unless they are talking about the crimes of the powerful. Its policy as to how to solve crime isn't realistic. They say that in order for crime to disappear, they have to wait for the revelation, BUT this has never happened in any society, communist or not. Lastly, it focuses on male behaviour only and is male streamed. It renders women invisible, but women are more prevalent as victims. It is out of these criticisms that the realist criminology was developed whereby it argued against the idealism of new criminology. Rozina Shafi March 2003 ...read more.

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