Outline and Assess the Marxist Approach to Crime and Deviance

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Outline and assess the Marxist approach to crime and deviance (50)

Crime is defined as an act that is punishable by law. It is socially constructed, meaning society decides what is considered to be a crime. Deviance is a violation of society’s norms. Individuals decide what is and isn’t deviant based on their own norms and values, therefore, deviance can also be viewed as a social construct. What is considered to be a crime or act of deviance may differ from different cultures since crime and deviance is culturally relative, where crimes are specific to a culture based on their own norms and values. Marxism is a conflict theory which sees society as a structure in which the economic base determines the shape of the superstructure, which is made up of all the other social institutions, such as the law or the education system. Their function is to serve the interests of the bourgeoisies and maintain a capitalist society. For Marxists, crime is ultimately a result of capitalism. Crime is inevitable to capitalism because capitalism is criminogenic, meaning it causes crime. Capitalism is based on exploitation of the working class, using them to serve the ruling class. It is damaging to the working class and gives rise to crime.
Traditional Marxists argue that crime is a result of class inequality and poverty. Individuals in a state of poverty commit crime in order to rebel against their exploitation by the ruling class. David Gordon (1971) argued that crime is a rational response to capitalism. He claimed that considering the nature of capitalism we should not ask why the working class commit crime, but rather why the working class do not commit more crime. Among poorer sections of society, capitalism encourages a ‘culture of envy’ that may encourage a criminal reaction. Material deprivation, a term Marxists use in order to understand deviance, is closely related to…...

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