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Who is the criminal?

Traditional Marxists - society is split into two
classes, the ruling capitalists (bourgeoisie) and
the working class (proletariat).
Neo Marxists - Sociologists influenced by
traditional Marxists but also use ideas from other
theories in their argument particularly the
labelling theory.

Traditional Marxists
● Criminogenic capitalism
● The state and law making
● Ideological functions of
crime and law

What is Criminogenic capitalism?
The oppression and exploitation of the majority
Dog eat dog world where there is a lot of greed, violence
and violence
Crime happens as a result of the inequality and
poverty and therefore the only way that the lower
classes can survive.
Alienation and frustration of their status may lead to
vandalism and violence.

Marxism and Deviance
Deviance is to not follow the norms and values of the
ruling class (bourgeoisie) since they are the rulers of
By defining their deviant behaviour, the bourgeoisie are
controlling the rest of society

Power and Control
The criminals according to the marxists are the rich
people who exploit the rest of society to keep them poor.
Criminals are rejecting the capitalist society we live in.
What theory could you relate this to?

David Gordon 1991
Most working class crime is a realistic rational response to inequalities.
Due to capitalism we should not ask why the working class commit crime but
rather why they don't commit more crime?
Capitalism encourages criminal behavior in every social class. It is the need to
win at all costs. That is white collar, corporate crime to keep your business
afloat such as tax evasion.

Envy - the poorer people may get a ‘culture of envy’ which encourages a
What theory does this relate to?

The State and Law Making
Opposite to the functionalist view. Law making and enforcements only serves
the interest of the capitalist class.
Laureen Snider (1993) - the capitalist state is reluctant to pass laws that
regulate the activities of business or threaten their profitability.
The rich make their rules to protect their own wealth and power.
Property theft and benefit fraud is seen as a lower class crime and therefore
is a higher punishment than embezzlement and tax evasion which are seen as
a higher class crime.

What do these pictures have in

5 years for murder

Ideological Functions of crime and law
The law does help to protect the working classes eg.
health and safety or minimum wage laws.
Frank Pearce (1976) argues that the legislation actually
has a positive purpose for the capitalist too. eg health and
safety keeps their workers fit.

Evaluations of Marxism
- Ignores gender and ethnicity
- The criminal justice system sometimes goes against
the capitalist class.
- Too judgemental of the lower classes, not everybody
who is lower class commits crime
- not all capitalist societies have high crime rates
- Ignores crimes committed by working class against
working class. eg. mugging and burglary.

What is the difference
between traditional
Marxist and Neo Marxist?

What is the difference between traditional Marxist and
Neo Marxist?

Traditional - deterministic. Your class
will determine whether you are a
criminal or not
Neo - Voluntaristic. People have free will
and make a choice.

“Critical Criminology”
Working class criminals are “Robin
Hood’s” stealing from the rich to give back
to the poor.

Ian Taylor, Paul Walton and Jock Young 1973
Agree that inequality is at the root of all crime
Instead of being driven to crime, they believe that criminals choose crime.
They call this voluntarists.
Reject all theories that behaviour is driven by external forces. Crime is not
caused by biology, environment, poverty or anomie.
Crime is deliberate, conscious and has political motives. E.g gay liberation,
black power movement.
Vandalism is an attack on society's obsession with property.

When Looking at deviance Taylor et al believe you
have to look ta 6 points...
1. The wider origins of the deviant act (the unequal distribution of wealth)
2. the immediate origins of the deviant act (the context of the crime)
3. The act itself (what was it for?)
4. The immediate origins of social reaction (such as family, police etc)
5. The wider origins of social reaction (looking at why people might get a
harsher punishment than others)
6. The effects of labelling (why does labelling lead to deviance
points come from a mixture of Marxism and

theory. Which relate to which theory?


Stuart Hall 1978 -

‘Policing the crisis’

Looked at the moral panic over muggings in the 1970s
Newspapers kept reporting muggings. Hall explains this by saying that due to
the economic crisis, Britain needed something else to concentrate on. In this
case it was the muggings committed by black men.
Created a social solidarity by using the government.
Neo-Marxists say that this is just one of many examples of how social
background (in this instance you’re ethnicity and class) can result in you being
deviant, but it is only because of the labelling from the ruling class that you
become a deviant.

Evaluations of Neo Marxism
Gender blind
Romantisises the working class as Robin Hood’s - they are preying on the
Don’t take crime seriously and ignore the effects on working class victims
Most victims of crime are working class and black, Taylor et al do not
recognise that the working class, black people are committing crime
against their own race and class.
Ignores domestic violence and abuse - how does this relate to politics?
Hopkins (2005) says that the whole theory is far too vague.

Read the article I have given you on Enron.

What happened?
Who suffered harm as a result of the collapse?
How would Marxists and Neo Marxists see this?

I have given you an A3 double sided venn diagram.
I want to you to go through all of the theories we have so
far and fill in the diagram of what parts of the theory
overlaps with others