Chapter 10 [page 269-298]
Social Conflict Perspective
There are five fundamental assumptions within the social conflict perspective:
1. Society is divided by conflict rather than integration and consensus
2. Society is made up of groups based on political and economic power
3. Differences in social class and in particular those arrangements within society that
maintain class differences are the focus of criminological study
4. Powerful groups make laws that protect and reflect their interest
5. Crime is an outcome of conflict between those who have, and those who have no
Social Conflict Perspective : where conflict is a fundamental aspect of life and can never
fully be restored. There are 6 major fields of social conflict criminology, radical, critical,
feminist, peace-making, restorative, and retributive.
1. Radical Criminology (Marxist - proactive): there are two fundamental social classes (the
haves and the have not’s), he called them the proletariat(workers, without power) and
the bourgeoisie(capitalists-hold all the power); the justice system is setup in such a way
that supports the ruling class. The cause of crime is rooted in social conditions that
empower the wealthy and the politically well-organized but disenfranchise those less
fortunate. Each person is put into a social class which they are either ascribed to (born
into) or achieved status (worked for it).
- The powerful make laws and they are in the best interest of them. Police and
criminal law are created to ensure the powerful maintain their dominance over
- Chambliss and Seidman: Society today has so many different groups and
because there are so many groups there are so many conflicting sets of norms.
Whether or not a groups set of norms will become accepted in society depends
on how powerful the group is (ex. Since gangsters are not the dominant group
it is not normal for people to have extremely saggy pants), the higher the
economic and political position the greater the probability that its views will be
reflected in the laws.
- Structural Marxism institutions of society influence the behaviour of
individuals and groups by virtue of the type of relationships created
- Instrumental Marxism those in power intentionally create laws that serve
their own interests and that keep others from becoming powerful 2. Critical Criminology (reactive): emphasizes challenging existing understandings of
crimes and uncovering false beliefs.
3. Feminist: women have been ignored within the field of criminology; this theory
emphasizes the recognition of gender equality.
- Patriarchy the tradition of male dominance
Gender is not a natural fact but derived from the creation of social and
historical forces (political creation).
Gender relations and constructs on masculinity and femininity are based on
an organizing principle of men’s superiority and their dominance over women
Systems of knowledge reflect men’s views of the natural and social world-that
men are superior.
Women should be at the centre, not at the periphery, of intellectual inquiry.
- Radical feminist any significant change in the status of women can be
accomplished only through substantial changes in social institutions
- Liberal feminist concerns of women can be incorporated within existing
social institutions though conventional means, no need for drastic reform
- Socialist feminist social roles and the gender based division of labour within
the family, seeing both as a significant source of womens insubordination
- Power control theory crime comes from power relationships within society
for domestic settings (family relations, intimate relationships etc)
4. Peace-making Criminology: holds that crime control agencies and the citizens they serve
should work together to alleviate social problems and human suffering; there are five