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Outline and evaluate Marxist theories of crime.

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Outline and evaluate Marxist theories of crime. Marxist theorists began to make new and challenging claims about the cause of crime and deviance. They focus on the link between those in the ruling class and their involvement with crime. However, they never really managed to prove their ideas on the link between crime and capitalism upon which all their theories are based. US Marxists, including William Chambliss and Frank Pearce took over from the labelling theory and began to develop their own theories of crime. They have made four specific criticisms of labelling theorists work believing that they themselves could do a far better job. One criticism is that the labelling theory fails to explain why people actually break the law; they gave no explanation of primary deviation. A second criticism is that when Cicourel uses the term 'typical delinquent' to explain the type of person the police are ore likely to arrest and charge he does not explain where this stereotype came from in the first place. It is also pointed out that the labelling theory only deals with 'minor' crimes, giving explanations for such things as marijuana smoking, stuttering, paranoia etc. and gives no consideration of more major crimes such as robbery or murder. A final criticism is that it fails to provide a systematic explanation of where the law comes from which is one thing Marxist focus on in particular. Marxists believe that crime is the product of capitalist society and base their theory on answers to several pairs of questions, starting with who makes the law and who benefits? ...read more.


However, it is not explained how these 92 convictions were decided on and came about. One explanation would be that there is a conspiracy involving many organisations including the police. It would have to be decided at some point who was to be convicted and who wasn't, how many convictions were to take place etc. However, there is no evidence implying that any such conspiracy is taking place and therefore it is unsound to give this as an explanation. Another criticism of the Marxist claim that there were a few convictions of the ruling class because they created a myth of equality before the law is that it is a teleological statement. They are saying that the effect (the myth of equality) is what causes the few convictions when in fact the myth is created by the few prosecutions and comes after they have taken place, therefore it cannot be their cause. The final pair of questions the Marxists answer are, why break the law and why enforce the law? They believe that capitalism is the reason for people committing crime. They argue that it makes everyone greedy for material success and keeps them ever wanting more than they have already got. Capitalism causes individuals to want for themselves personally rather than for society therefore causing them to want to take from society for their own personal gain. Marxists believe that the law in enforced in the way that it is (so as to 'pick on' the proletariats) ...read more.


In order for it to be true at some point it must have been decided that it was necessary to create a moral panic, therefore implying there must have been some form of conspiracy between all the agencies involved; the police, media, politicians and judges. However, there is no evidence of such a conspiracy and therefore it isn't valid to say one took place. Also, like the Marxist statement that there are a few convictions of the ruling class because they create a myth of equality before the law, Halls claim is teleological. Hall argues that the moral panic happened because it prepared the public for military policing; however preparing the public for military policing is the effect of the moral panic and happens afterwards. It is therefore not accurate to use the effect as the cause of moral panic. As you can see Marxists have developed new and thought provoking theories on crime and the way in which they believe the ruling class are heavily involved. They do not however fully succeed in proving this link between capitalism and crime with any evidence and therefore there are many criticisms to be made of their work. Their use of teleological statements shows their lack of evidence as they resort to using the effect of the event being described as its cause. They also fail to give any evidence of conspiracy between leading agencies which must be in practice in order for many of their theories to be true. It makes you wonder if it could even be possible that such large conspiracies are going on all around us undetected. Lorna Suckling BAT ...read more.

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