Assess The Usefulness Of Marxist Approaches In Explaining Crime

Topics: Marxism, Karl Marx, Socialism Pages: 2 (673 words) Published: April 19, 2015
Assess the usefulness of Marxist approaches in explaining crime (21 Marks) Marxists see society as divided into two opposed classes; a small capitalist ruling class and a majority working class. Marxists do not agree with perspectives such as Functionalism, and see the law as a reflection of a value consensus among society’s members; instead they see law and crime as arising out of the structure of capitalism and reflecting the values of ruling class ideology. In their view the structure of the capitalist society we live in today explains crime and the causes of crime. According to Marxists crime is bound to happen in a capitalist society, and the reason behind this is because capitalism is ‘criminogenic’, meaning capitalism itself causes crime. Marxists explain that capitalism is based on the oppression of the working class; they argue that the ruling class use them as a way to make profit which is damaging on the working class. Marxists explain this causes crime as poverty may mean crime is the only way the working class can survive and crime may also be the only way they can obtain the consumer goods encouraged by capitalist advertising, resulting in theft and other utilitarian crimes. However Marxists note that not only working class people commit crime, Gordon (1976) argues that crime is a rational response to capitalism found in all social classes Capitalism is a ‘dog-eat-dog’ system of fierce competition among capitalist competing with each other for profit, encouraging them to commit white-collar crime and corporate crimes such as tax evasion. However the usefulness of this Marxist explanation of crime has been criticised as not all capitalist societies have high crime rates, for example Japan & Switzerland have a much lower crime level than the USA. Furthermore, Marxists see law making and law enforcement as only serving the interest of the ruling class. Chambliss (1975) argues that laws to protect private property are the foundation of the capitalist...
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