CRIM 2650 Lecture Notes - Lecture 15: Left Realism, Social Constructionism, Class Conflict

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9 Mar 2018
Department
Course
Professor
CRIM 2650 – Left and Right Realism
January 18th 2018
Overview
- Critiques of Marxist Criminology
oDefinition of crime
oRomanticization
oMarxism, and Race and Gender
oConspiratorial analysis
oClass and criminality
- Right Realism
oBroken Windows Theory
oOngoing Controversy
- Left Realism
oCritique of Marxism
oCritique of Social Constructionism
oPolicy Suggestions
Critiques of Marxist Criminology
1. Broad Definition of Crime as Social Harm and Human Rights Violation
2. Romantic image of working-class criminals
3. Conspiratorial analysis
4. Not everyone living in poverty commit crime
5. Not all form of criminality is class based, there are class-neutral crimes
6. Power and powerlessness cannot be explained only by class. Race and gender are also
important.
Definition of Crime
- Crime as Social Harm and Human Rights Violation
- Practical Difficulties
oWhat specific harm to define as criminal
oHuman rights is a broad concept
Difficulties in enforcement
Could be (ab)used by the powerful
oDefinition of crime and class struggle
Romanticization
- Romantic image of working-class offenders as “primitive rebels”
oCrime as an act of resistance
oNot as harmful
- Understanding the harm caused by working class criminals (e.g. street crime)
oVictims of street crime are often working-class people
- Criticism from Left and Right Realist Perspectives
oRealist policies
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CRIM 2650 – Left and Right Realism
Conspiratorial Analysis
- Direct influence of the capitalist class on the criminal justice system
- Criticism
oNot all laws promote the activities of the capitalists
oElites might not ‘pull the strings’ at the right moment
- This criticism applies mainly to instrumental Marxism
oStructural Marxism
Class and Criminality
- Not everyone living in poverty commit crime
- Middle and upper classes might also commit ‘working-class’ crimes (e.g. vandalism and
homicide)
- Free-will and rationality of individuals
oNeo-classical criminology
oRight Realism
oControl Theory
- Marxism, similar to Durkheim, is more interested in macro-sociological patterns
oClass shapes the choices of individuals
Poor is more likely to steal
Class and Criminality II
- Class-Neutral Crimes
oNot all forms of criminality are class based, there are also class-neutral crimes
(e.g. rape)
- Power and powerlessness cannot be explained only by class
oPatriarchy racism
Marxism, and Race and Gender
- Most Marxist scholars largely ignored or insufficiently explained issues of racism and
sexism
oSee last week’s lecture
- While most Marxist criminologists did not produce race or gender specific analyses, class
perspective helps to better understand issues of race and gender
oClass factors shape the relationship between different racial and gender groups
Class and Race (examples)
- The Origins of American Policing
oSlave Patrols and Accumulation of Capital (Parenti)
- Mass Incarceration Policies and Neoliberal Policies (Parenti)
- Bhopal disaster: inhumane working conditions, lax safety regulations in Global South
(Pearce)
- Reserve army of labor in Global North: racialized minorities
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