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Chapter 9

SOC*1500 Chapter 9

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University of Guelph
SOC 1500
Mavis Morton

Chapter 9 Social Conflict Theory  Ocial conflict theorists view crime as a function of the conflict that exists in society  The goal of social conflict theorists is to explain crime within economic and social contexts and to express the connections among social class, crime, and social control  Conflict theorists are concerned with such issues as the role the government plays in crating a criminogenic environment, the personal or group power in controlling and shaping the criminal law, the role of bias in the operations of the justice system and the relationship between a capitalist economy and crime rates  View crime as the outcome of class struggle CONFLICT THEORY is a general approach that sees criminal behaviour as caused by economic inequality, and criminal law defined by those in power Conflict Theory - Crime is a function of class conflict and the definition of the law is controlled by people who hold social and political power - It accounts for class differentials in the crime rate - It shows class conflict influences behaviour Marxist Thought Marxist Theory - The capitalist means of production creates class conflict - Crime is a rebellion of the lower class and the criminal justice system is an agent of class warfare - It accounts for the associations between economic structure and crime rates  Marx believed that the economic conditions had put workers at the mercy of capitalist employers  Marx saw a connection between criminality and inequality  Portrayed crime as a function of demoralization: workers demoralized by capitalist society, are caught up in a process that leads to crime and violence  Bonger states that because society changes constantly, so do the ideas of what is considered moral and immoral Instrumental Marxist Theory - States that criminals are revolutionaries and that the real crimes are sexism, racism and profiteering - It broadens the definition of crime and demystifies or explains the historical development of law  People started to view the justice system as a mechanism to control the lower class and maintain status quo, rather than a means of dispensing fair and even-handed justice  The control of the political and economic system affects the administration of criminal justice  Marxism is a critique of capitalism  View criminal law and the criminal justice system solely as an instrument for controlling the poor SURPLUS VALUE is the Marxist view that the labouring classes produce wealth that far exceeds their wages and goes to the capitalist class as profits  Theory states that the poor may or may not commit more crimes that the rich do, but they certainly are more arrested and punished more often  They believe that the goal of criminology should be to show how law in capitalist society works to preserve working-class power Structural Marxist Theory - The law is designed to sustain the capitalist economic system - It explains the existence of white-collar crime and business control laws STRUCTURAL MARXISM is the view that law is designed to maintain a capitalist system; individuals (either owners and workers) whose behaviour threatens social stability
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