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SOC 227 (32)


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SOC 227
Sara Cumming

CRIMINOLOGY LAST LECTURE Conflict Theorists: 1960s: (1) identifying “real” crimes (2) evaluating how criminal law used as a mechanism of social control (3) examining inequities in society (4) describe the criminogenic influence of social and economic power Goal: explain crime within economic and social contexts -role of government -personal and group power and shaping law -role of bias -capitalism and crime Crime: outcome of class struggle in which conflict works to promote crime by creating a social atmosphere in which the law is a mechanism for controlling the have-nots while maintaining the position of the powerful “True crimes” - racism, sexism, imperialism; substandard housing, unsafe working conditions Marxist thought - basis for all social conflict theory Karl Marx - era of unrestrained capitalist expansion economic conditions of capitalism - turned workers into a dehumanized mass Most important relationship: between owners of productions (capitalist bourgeoisie) and workers (proletariat) Crime: product of law enforcement policies “There must be something rotten in the very core of a social system which increases in wealth without diminishing in misery, and increases in crime even more rapidly than in numbers” Friedrich Engels, The Conditions of the Working Class in England in 1844 crime: function of “social demoralization” Rolph Dahrendorf, Class and Class Conflict in Industrial Society “The working class of today, far from being a homogenous group of equally unskilled and impoverished people, is in fact a stratum, differentiated by numerous subtle and not so subtle distinctions. Workers, for example, are divided into the unskilled, the semiskilled and skilled and the interests of one group may not match the needs of the others” Richard Quinney, “Social Reality of Crime” 1. Crime is a definition of human conduct that is created by authorized agents in a politically organized society. 2. Criminal definitions describe behaviours that conflict with the interests of the segment of society that have the power to shape public policy. 3. Criminal definitions are applied by the segments of society that have the power to shape the enforcement and administration of criminal law 4. Behaviour patterns are structured in segmentally organized society and within this context, people engage in actions that have relative probabilities of being defined as criminals 5. Conceptions of crime are constructed and diffused in the segments of the society by various means of communications 6. The social reality of crime is constructed by the formulation and applications of criminal definitions, the development of behaviour patterns to criminal definitions, and the construction of criminal conceptions Instrumental Marxist: criminal law/criminal justice system - instrument for controlling poor/have-nots; state - tool of capitalists: task: (i) “demystify” law and justice: reveal its true purpose -capitalist justice serves rich/powerful -enables them to impose their morality/standards of behaviour upon an entire society -extend their self-serving definition of “crime” upon those who might threaten status quo or interfere with their never-ending quest for profits (ii) reveal the destructive intent of capitalist-inspired and funded criminology: keep the lower classes servile by showing why they are more criminal, less intelligent, more prone to family problems, school failure, etc. (iii) explicate the role of law in capitalist society: to preserve ruling-class power Claim: only with the collapse of capitalist society and the creation of a new society, based on so
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