Examine Some Of The Ways In Which Marxists Explain Crime 12 Marks

533 words - 3 pages

One way in which Marxists examine crime is the idea that they feel crime is inevitable in capitalism because capitalism in itself is criminogenic. Due to capitalism being based on exploiting the working class by using them as a means of making profit, this is therefore damaging to the working class and arguably explains why crime is committed. Due to the exploitation of the working class, which may lead to poverty and in some cases the only way to survive poverty, is by using crime in order to feed and clothe families. Crime may also be the only way the working class can compete in this world of consumer goods, encouraged by capitalist advertising, resulting in theft and robbery. Lastly the lack of control the working class have on their lives due to ...view middle of the document...

Another Marxist idea that helps explain crime is Selective Enforcement. This is the idea that some Marxist do except that crime is widespread over all classes but the way in which the criminal justice system is applied, is unfair against those in working class and ethnic minorities. Whereas crime committed by the elite is ignored and treated with less severity. An example of this is Jeffrey Reimans book ' the rich get richer and the poor get prison' as it shows that the more likely a crime is committed by higher class people, the less likely it is to be treated as a criminal offence.

The law, crime and criminals also perform an ideological function for capitalism. Laws are sometimes passed that claim to be for the benefit of the working class rather than capitalism, such as the workplace health and safety laws. Although, Frank Pearce argues that these laws can often benefit the ruling class too. An example of this is keeping worker fit for work. By giving capitalism a 'caring' face, such laws also create false consciousness among the workers.

Although these laws are not rigourously enforced as Carson found that in a sample of 200 firms they had all broken health and safety laws at least once, yet only a small proportion of these cases resulted in a prosecution. Due to the state enforcing laws selectively it makes it seem that crime appears to be a working class problem.

Marxists have however been criticised for being too deterministic and for how they over-predict the amount of crime within the working class. They also largely ignore the relationship between crime and important non-class inequalities such as ethnicity and gender. Left realists argue that Marxism focuses on the crimes of the powerful and ignores intra-class crimes.

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