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Chapter 13

Criminological Theory Chapter 13.docx

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University of Guelph
SOC 2700
Scott Brandon

Criminological Theory Chapter 13 Marxist & Postmodern Criminology - Critical criminology: an umbrella designation for a series of evolving, emerging perspectives that are characterized particularly by an argument that it is impossible to separate values from the research agenda, and by a need to advance a progressive agenda favoring disprivileged peoples - 2 types of critical perspectives: 1. Marxist criminology 2. Postmodern criminology - Critical theories share the view that inequality in power is causally related to the problem of crime - Unlike conflict theories, critical theories make specific arguments on the sources or origins of power - Marxist theories locate power in ownership of the means of production - Postmodern theories locate power in the control over language systems - According to these theories, getting to the root of the problem of crime requires social change at the most fundamental level - The focus on what ought to be rather than what is, on the ideal rather than on the real, is what distinguishes these theories from mainstream criminology - Critical theories are difficult to summarize because 1. Their complexity leads to profound disagreements among different theorists within the same area 2. Theorists in these areas may frequently change their own positions as their thinking develops Overview of Marxs Theory - Karl Marx developed his theory in the immediate aftermath of the social changes brought on by the Industrial Revolution - He attempted to explain why these changes occurred and what was coming next - His theory linked economic development to social, political, and historical change, but didnt deal with the problem of crime in any significant way - The principal conflict in his theory was the conflict between the material forces of production and the social relations of production - Material forces of production: a societys capacity to produce material goods and includes technological equipment and the knowledge, skill, and organization to use that equipment - Social relations of production: relationships among people that include property relationships, which determine how the goods produced by the material forces of production are distributed - The development of material forces of production is generally continuous throughout history, but the social relations of production tend to freeze in particular patterns for long periods of time - When first established the social relations enhance the development of the material forces of production, but they become increasingly inconsistent with the material forces and begin to impede their further development - Eventually the social relations change abruptly and violently, and new social relations are established that enhance the development of the material forces of production - Marx used this model to explain the changes that occurred in European societies - When the social relations of feudalism were established, they were progressive and necessary for further development of the material forces of production - After a thousand years, the material forces of production had developed extensively but the social relations had hardly changed and at this point they were hindering the further development of the material forces of production- The new social relations of production after the Industrial Revolution bourgeois capitalism were necessary for the further development of material forces of production - The material forces of production would keep developing under capitalism, but the social relations would remain fixed - Over time the social relations of capitalism would become an obstacle to the further development of material forces of production and Marx predicted there would be a sudden restructuring of the social relations in which socialism would replace capitalism - He believed socialism would replace capitalism because: - Property is increasingly concentrated into fewer and fewer hands, and former capitalists are transformed into wage laborers who work for someone else instead of having people work for them - Also, increasing mechanization in business and industry means that fewer workers are needed, so theres an increasing pool of underemployed and unemployed workers. With so many workers who want jobs, those who have jobs can be paid low wages because others will work for even less - Marx argued capitalist societies tend to polarize in 2 conflicting groups: 1. Consists of people who own an increasing portion of the property in society as they beat out their competitors. Over time this group grows smaller and richer 2. Consists of employed and unemployed wage laborers and this group keeps getting larger and poorer as mechanization increases unemployment and real wages decrease because the supply of labor exceeds the demand for it - Marx called
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