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Conflict Theory.docx

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SOC 2700
Scott Brandon

Conflict Theory 1. Some ideas of conflict theory  Crime is explained within economic context -economic and social context to where crime originated: class, economy, struggles between various groups of people  Power struggles exists between groups. 2. Conflict theory studies the following  The role of government in creating a criminal society -indirectly through their behavior (g20 creating individual criminalization because the gov’t said you could not protest)  The role of group power in shaping law -white collar crime:  Biases in the justice system: who win/loses -someone who is homeless minding their own business but trespassing, can become criminalized than anyone else who looks “normal”. -inequality about who becomes criminal  Relationships between capitalization and crime rates -promotes the idea that law becomes the tool to control aliens in society “squeegee kids” -inequality in society based on money (private school kids fucking off but getting good grades, when public school kids work their asses off and still can’t get good grades) -certain types of people come through the system and can escape the criminal justice system. If you have a higher position in society you are better off than someone who doesn’t have this kind of authority. 3. Position of Conflict Theorists  Argue against consensus model of law -everyone is equal in the law is not true, 1960’s and 1970’s this model reigned supreme. -when looking at peoples behaviors the state doesn’t always reflect the interests of everybody in society -class is a major factor that determines the outcome of the case: feel economic pressure to plead guilty because can’t afford lawyer.  Less power= easily criminalized -various powerful people will have more stance in the criminal justice system  Law and crime are about power -law is a battle and conflict of different group of people -laws themselves are going to reflect this idea that certain groups of people have significant pull Ex. Property rights (earliest forms of law) theft law was targeting lower classes of people who cant economically afford to feed their family  Groups fight for power September 26 th 4. Conflict theorists start with some questions:  Why are some norms made into laws? -street level crime is focused most in crime.  Why are only some laws enforced? - Issue of white collar crimes, only enforced for one groups to the next.  Why are laws used against certain groups? -why do we target certain areas (Jane & Finch) 5. Common ideas in Conflict Theory  Inequalities and power - Things based upon class, race law, gender, SES. - See how these unfolds within the law: white VS poc same crime in court, come out with different verdicts  Crime is political -law is not objective or impartial - “consensus model” every person who comes into course are gonna have same outcome. No bias. But that’s not the case. - status and position is important -do not see as impartial view  Law serves the powerful - There’s a vested interest of certain groups in society - -focuses primarily on street level, working class crime - Bias in the criminal justice system - -basis of the struggles between groups 6. Marxist Criminology: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels  Crime is tired to economic structure in society -common theme in Marist criminology -main point is economy  Scarce resources = competition -money capital power prestige profit =scare commodities  Capitalism produces inequality -health care, profit motive, issues with greed -some people gain and have access to these resources and some are left behind who can’t access these resources -industrially revolution: pollution  Economic classes: bourgeoisie and proletariat -bourgeoisie: capitalist with means of production, wealthy elites -proletariat: working class, everyday individual, trade time for money -capitalism created this division between classes -inequalities in the justice system  Source of conflict: who controls the means (modes) of production -cause is the idea very few people (1%) controlling over 65% of the assets in the country, and not sharing profits with the lower classes -sense of false consciousness, people think this is the way it is supposed to be and don’t revolt 7. Marxist Criminology : modern theories  Law: domain of the ruling class -is there to help class group interests - legislation protects property and profits, in this they are selling to lower class groups that these people win.  Crime: by-product of class struggle -crime is a reactionary component in class struggle -wealth accumulation is bad because it keeps some from benefitting -those excluded may rebel and resort to criminal behavior  Distancing from means of production determines crime  Importance of surplus value and crime -difference between what the workers produces and what profit the workers receive - workers produce good exceed wages which creates profit, capitalist innovates (invest money into machines) and subsequently that replaces a variety of workers, no longer need workers, leaving people working for lower wages, workers become displaced and marginalized, and then move to crime. 8. Contemporary Marxists: Williem Bonger – interested in human nature  Greed and selfishness are tied to crime -capitalism creates this  Owners: make profits -makes use of the workers and exploits them  Workers: sell their labour for cheap  Both and greedy and selfish -competition for jobs -selling out on class groups (outbidding for a job)  But only poor are criminalized  Capitalism demoralize the person (crime) -selling labour at lower and lower wages -poor becomes criminalized, greed of the poor -crime tends to be tied to the need of survival -rich get richer and the poor get prison 9. Contemporary Marxists: other approaches  Conditions in capitalism generate crime: reaction to deprivation -sees crime as a natural response to poor working conditions -those engaging in crime are trying to supplement for providing self to live  Social origins of law in criminalizing -traditionally breaking laws is crime against the state 10. Instrumental Marxism  The State serves the interest of the elites -early origins of laws started with property. -main premise of law (every step of process) you can see these things ties whos politically and economically in control in society -ex. Amount of plea bargaining (aboriginal status have radically different outcomes than Caucasian) -elites, very small group of population  Law is the instrument of ruling class -law is about controlling the poor -can impose their sense of morality on the justice system  Poor are easily criminalized -easily caught and convicted for crime -law helps capitalists control the lower classes ex. G20 summit -poor are driven to crime due to frustrations and various types of hostile activities they are involved in.  Corporate criminals: avoid severe penalties 11. Structural Marxism  Law preserves capitalism  But: elite class is not coherent group -not a cohesive structure, no sol
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