SOC 1500 Lecture Notes - Wield, Community Policing, Left Realism

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October 25, 2011
Lecture Notes
Week 8 Social Conflict
Song of the Day Uprising by Muse
Sociological Theories: Emphasis on Social Conflict (Critical perspectives)
- Marxist theory foundation for the other critical perspectives
- Critical criminology
- Feminist theory
- Left-realist
Consensus vs. Conflict Theories
- Conflict
o Society is composed of diverse social groups with different definitions
of right and wrong
o Conflict is a fundamental aspect of social life and different groups
compete for power, wealth etc
o Law is the tool of power, powerful groups make laws and those laws
express and protect their interests
Conflict/Critical Theories
- Power relations in society and relations between social, political and
economic power & definition of deviant/criminal behaviour
- Focus of criminology should be directed not only on rule breakers but ruler
Marxist Criminology
- New Criminology launched in 1970’s: radical/critical criminology – Ian
- Drew on Marxist traditions in social and political thought as a way of
explaining the crime in a system predicted on class inequalities
- Witnessed the birth of the industrial revolution = Emergence of new forms of
exploitation and oppression through the accumulation of capital by the few
at the expense of the many
- Where there is inequality, there will be resistance to inequality
Causes of Crime
- Crime is an outcome and reflection of basic class divisions =
o Activities of economic and political elites exempt from punishment
o Crimes of the working class criminalized
In the 1960’s the influence of Marx extended to a critique of the
consensus model.
Marxist Theory
- State administrators to capitalist interests
- Intensive policing of the underclass which legitimates the maintenance of a
system of social control
- Targeting of working class as a whole as working class crime more visible
and directed against individuals
- How social problems like crime are constructed all relate according to critical
theorists, all relate to the class position you are in. it will influence the kind of
criminal activity you engage in and the way the criminal justice system will
respond to you.
Critical Criminology
- Critique of many of the dominant social institutions
- General rebellion against norms, values and activities of mainstream society
(anti-war, student militancy, women’s liberation, civil rights, environmental
movement etc.)
Marxist theory and Youth Rebellion
- Working class youth established youth subcultures
- Youth Rebellion social protests about social inequalities e.g. anti-
war/peace, civil rights, environmental movements
Justice with order or?
- Justice = “A society based on a fair and equitable distribution of power,
weath, prestige and privilege” (Hartnagale 2004:359)
October 25, 2011
Week 8 Notes
Thursday Class
Sociological Theories: Emphasis on Social Conflict (Critical Perspectives)
Conflict View
Marxist theory and Youth Rebellion
- Youth Rebellion = social protests about social inequalities eg. Anti-
war/peace, civil rights, environmental movements
- Clip the year that shaped a generation counter culture
o It identifies the context at which critical criminologists occurs
Crime Prevention?
- Address problem of wealth and power in the hands of a few = collective
- Revolution or profound social transformation
Limits of Marxist criminology
- Did not explain why ALL marginalized don’t commit crime
- Romanticised the rebel who may be causing real harms
- Idealism only sweeping social change solution
- Focus almost exclusively on class and ignored inequality by race, gender,
sexuality etc?
Critical Criminology
- Roots in radical or Marxist criminology
- New schools of thought have emerged including
o Left realism
o Feminist criminology
Critical Criminology Commonalities
- Inequality and power central to understanding of crime and its control
- Crime is a political not a value-free concept
- Capitalism is the root cause of criminal behaviour
Commonalities of Critical Criminology
- Opposition to mainstream proposals for:
o More prisons,
o More police
o More punishment
- Regards major structural and cultural changes within society as essential to
reducing all types of crime & eliminating the unequal administration of