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Chapter 11

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Sociology 2266A/B
Lisa Lyons

Conflict Theories Chapter 11 Crim  Conflict perspective assumes that societies are more divided by conflict than they are integrated by consensus o Question the assumption that or laws represent the interests of society as a whole  Consensus theorist view that law as the codification of mutually agreed upon society norms and values Cultural Conflict Theory  Thorsten Sellin o First criminologists to propose a conflict perspective for the analysis of crime  Modern society is composed of diverse cultural groups, each maintaining distinct “conduct norms” or cultural rules that govern appropriate conduct  Says that culturally homogenous societies the values and norms to which people subscribe will be similar, so the conduct norms of the broader social group will reflect societal consensus  But in more cultural heterogeneous societies, urbanization, industrialization and overall societal consensus is less likely o Conflict between conduct norms of different cultural groups o Conduct norms – specification of rules or norms of a appropriate behaviour generally agreed upon by members of the social group to whom the behavioural norms apply  cultural conflict can arise when conduct norms clash o certain types of criminal behaviour as resulting from a conflict between the conduct norms of divergent cultural groups  While there are many ways which social groups can secure conformity of their members, criminal law stands out because everyone must follow it no matter what social group you belong to  But criminal law does depend on the character and interests of those groups in the population which influence legislation (dominant interest groups) o Criminal law reflect dominant social values of dominant cultural group o Criminal norms = conduct norms codified into laws that represent dominant group o Stellin says that crime is an expression of culture conflict when individuals who act based on the conduct norms of their own cultural group find themselves in violation of the conduct norms that the dominant group has enacted into law Box 11.1 – Honour Crimes in Canada: the Murder of Aqsa Parvez (example of cultural conflict theory – criminal norms)  Life outside school was tightly controlled by father  She wanted to choose her own clothing, go to the movies  Forced to wear the hijab  Asqa told her closest friend that if she ran away again than her father would kill her  5000 woman and girls killed each year from honour killings  what is honour killing? – cultural sanctioning of premeditated killings of women perceived to have brought dishonour to their families, often by engaging in illicit relations with men  involve the murder of woman or girl by her male family members  not normally act alone, but with the approval or encouragement of other family members  rumour of an alleged impropriety is usually enough to justify an honour crime  most experts insist an essential characteristics of an honour killing is that it is premeditated Group Conflict Theory  George Vold  Group conflict theory as an explanation for certain types of criminal behaviour o a theory that attempts to explain certain types of criminal behaviour as resulting from a conflict between the interests of divergent groups  Vold focuses on crimes that occurs as a result of conflict between diverse “interest” groups o Assumption that humans are “group involved”  Groups will come in contact with one another as their interests begin to overlap and become competitive  Laws that are passed reflect the dominant interest group who won the struggle for police power/law making of state  Normal social process for Vold  Two classes of group conflict that result in crime o Crimes arise from a conflict between the behaviour of minority groups and the legal norms, rules and regulations of the dominant majority  gangs o Some crimes arise from a conflict between competing interest groups who are vying for power  Protests, revolution  Limited to instances where criminal behaviour arises from the conflict between interest groups and does not try to explain other types of criminal acts o Only inter-group crime Richard Quinney  Explains criminality as the result of conflict between groups  Focused on the notion of segments of society, which are types of social groupings  Placed emphasis on the unequal distribution of power in society  Only some interest groups are sufficiently powerful to influence policy, because power is unequally distributed  Crime in 6 propositions o Crime is product of legal definitions o Crime is behaviour that conflicts with the interests of segments that have the power to shape public policy o Powerful segments also enforce and administer the law o People in less powerful segments are more likely to have their behaviours defined as criminal, because their interests are not represented in the formulation and application of criminal defs o Mass media have a role in the diffusion of criminal conceptions through society o Process above is called social reality of crime Marxist Conflict Perspectives in Criminology  Marxist theories of crime and deviance do not look to the individual offender for explanations of crime  Take the position that crime must be analysed in the context of its relationships to the charter of the society as a whole  Crime is best understood in relation to the social, political and economic structures of the society in which it occurs  View conflict as rooted in the very structure of capitalist society, particularly capitalist economic relations  Economic structure = promote conflict in turn providing the precipitating conditions (unemployment) for crime to occur  Organization of capitalist society – fosters crime  Mode of production is composed by The forces of production and the social relations of production o Forces of production – tools, techniques, raw materials, and labour power used in production o Social relations of production – refers to the relationships that exist among humans with respect to the ownership of the means of production  Social relations of production = gave rise to two classes o Bouregoise  Economically dominant class who own the mean of production o Proletariat  Economically subordinate class, property –less  Based on class exploitation  One class is in a position of dominance over the other class in the economic sphere, the other social institutions in society will be organized according to the interests of the dominant class  Law and crime should not be studied in isolation, but rather in relation to the whole of society and particularly the economic sphere Instrumental Marxism  Assumption that the state in capitalist societies broadly serves the interests of the ruling or capitalist class  instrumental Marxism – the state is weird as the direct instrument of the ruling or capitalist class. Instrumentalism is based on the notion that the processes of the superstructure are determined by the economic base  Economic structure of society determines the nature that society’s political and legal superstructure
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