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2C06 E - Outline - 25 February.doc

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Denis Wall

SOCI2C06 – Deviance 25 February and 4 March (1 hour) Conflict theories (parts 1 and 2) Readings - Deutschmann, ch. 12 - Adler & Adler, ch. 5: Quinney, “Social Power: Conflict Theory of Crime” - Adler & Adler, ch. 10: Chesney-Lind, “Feminist Theory” - Adler & Adler, ch. 39: Draus and Carlson, “Trading Sex for Crack: Gender and Power” - Adler & Adler, ch. 45: Williamson and Cluse-Tolar, “Pimp-Controlled Prostitution” - Adler & Adler, ch. 42: Engdahl, “Opportunity Structures for White-Collar Crime” [Not Req.] - Adler & Adler, ch. 43: Wright and Decker, “Deciding to Commit a Burglary” [Not Req.] I. Basic questions and assumptions of mainstream conflict approaches - identifying the way social class, crime, and social control are connected - explaining the role government plays in creating a criminogenic environment - identifying the relationship between personal or group power and the shaping of criminal law - examining race and gender bias in justice system operations - demystifying the relationship between a capitalistic, free-enterprise economy and crime rates - showing how people and institutions misuse their political/social/media power to control the behavior of others and shape public opinion 1. Conflict theorists do not ask ‘why does crime occur?’ but rather ‘why doesn’t it occur more often?’ 2. Conflict theories focus their explanations on crime and deviance rather than on deviant behavior 1 Features of conflict theory Criminals and deviants are defined as powerless and oppressed people who threaten the interests of the ruling class Definitions of deviance stem from the views of those who have the power to make and enforce deviance and crime Unequal enforcement of definitions READING: Adler & Adler, ch. 5: Quinney, “Social Power: Conflict Theory of Crime” Richard Quinney’s theory of class, state, and crime Quinney’s conflict theory: definitions of deviance represent one of the coercive means through which the elite maintain their dominance over the masses Basic principles informing the relationship between law, power, and crime: i. - where there is conflict between social groups (the wealthy and the poor), those who hold power will create laws that benefit themselves and keep rivals in check ii. - law is not an abstract body of rules that represents an objective moral code iii. - instead, law is an integral part of society, a force that represents a way of life, and a method of doing things iv. - crime is a function of power relations and an inevitable result of social conflict v. - criminals are not simply social misfits but people who have come up short in the struggle for success and are seeking alternative means of achieving wealth, status, or just plain survival Quinney: ‘If we want to understand crime we also have to understand the development of the political economy of capitalist society’ Since the state serves the interests of the capitalist class, crime is ultimately a class based political act embedded in capitalist social arrangements 2 Contradictions of capitalism (“crimes of domination”) i. - some of its laws must be violated in order to secure the existing system ii. - deviance and crime must be committed in order to justify and legitimize the system iii. - much of the criminal behavior of ordinary people is ‘pursued out of the need to survive’ in a capitalist social order Quinney’s social conflict theory focuses on: i. - why governments make and enforce rules of law and morality ii. - why an individual violates these laws Legal authorities are unfair and unjust in their application of the law - the law favours the rich and powerful over the poor and weak Quinney: ‘the state and the ruling class secure the survival of the capitalist system by using criminal law to their advantage’ i. the state defines as criminal those behaviours (robbery, murder, …) that threaten its interests ii. the state then hires law enforcers to apply those definitions that protect its interests iii. the state exploits the subordinate class by paying them low wages so that the resulting oppressive life conditions force the powerless to commit what those in power have defined as crimes iv. the state uses these criminal actions to spread and reinforce the popular view that the subordinate class is dangerous; this justifies making and enforcing law
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