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SOC 2700 Lecture Notes - Thorsten Sellin, Class Conflict, Structural Marxism

Course Code
SOC 2700
Scott Brandon

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Feb. 6th
- Test
o Day 1: 1 essay question must be written
o Day 2: 1 of 2 essays must be written
o 3-4 pages are successful…
- Common ideas in Conflict Theory
o Inequality and power
o Crime is political
o Law serves the powerful
- Marxist Criminology: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
o Crime is tied to economic structures
o Scarce resources = competition
o Capitalism produces inequality
o Economic classes: bourgeoisie and proletariat
o Source of conflict: who controls the means (mode) of production
- Marxist Criminology: Modern Theorists
o Low: domain of the ruling class
o Crime: hyproduct of class struggle
o Distancing from means of production determines crime
o Importance of surplus value and crime
- Contemporary Marxists: Willem Bonger
o Greed and selfishness are tied to crime
o Owners: make profits
o Workers: sell their labour cheap
o Both are greedy and selfish
o But: only the poor are criminalized
o Capitalism demoralizes the person (crime)
- Contemporary Marxists: other approaches
o Conditions in capitalism generate crime: “reaction to deprivation” thesis
o Social origins of law and criminalization
- Instrumental Marxism
o The State serves the interests of elites
o Law is the instrument of ruling class
o Poor are easily criminalized
o Corporate criminals: avoid severe penalties
Feb. 8th
- Structural Marxism
o Law preserves capitalism
o But: elite class is not a coherent group
o Mediates among elite groups
o Law: is a solution to contradictions of capitalism
o Protects long-tern interests of capitalists
- Conflict Theorists: George Vold (wrote in times of Vietnam War adults forced to go to
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