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Ideological Functions of Crime and Neo-Marxism

Sociology Marxist theories of crime and devience

stephanie wardman

on 15 January 2013

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Transcript of Ideological Functions of Crime and Neo-Marxism

Marxist Theories of
Crime and Deviance Ideological
Functions of
Crime and Law Neo-Marxism:
criminology Evaluation of Traditional
Marxism Evaluation of critical criminology Anti-determinism A fully social theory of
deviance Loss of workers’ rights


This article shows how new legislations often come into place claiming to benefit both the companies and the workers, however they actually only benefit the companies and the people in charge at the expense of the workers. Deferred prosecutions for corporations


This articles shows how the law can be manipulated to benefit the capitalist companies, encouraging them to commit criminal acts as there is no serious consequence to their actions. Tax avoidance


This article shows how laws are failing the general public by not actually being in place. By these huge companies not having to pay taxes, the general public are spending their money but getting nothing in return. If the companies would have paid taxes then the money could go back into education and health care systems to improve general life in Britain. Law, crime and criminals perform an ideological function for capitalism, and appear to benefit the working class. I.e. Workplace health and safely rules. However Pearce argues that those laws benefit capitalism by giving it a caring face and creating false consciousness among workers. The health and safety are not rigorously enforced, only 1.5% of 200 cases were prosecuted according to Carson. The state enforces the law selectively, making crime look like a working-class phenomenon, encouraging the workers to blame the criminals rather than capitalism. The media contributes by portraying criminals as disturbed, concealing that it is capitalism that makes people criminals. It offers a useful explanation of the relationship between crime and capitalist society. It shows the link between law making and enforcement and the interests of the capitalists.
It has also influenced recent approaches to the study of crimes. However, it is criticised for; Ignoring the relationship between crime and class inequalities
Being too deterministic and over-predicting crime
Not all capitalist societies have crime rates, for example, Japan and Switzerland
The criminal justice system does sometimes work against capitalism.
Left realists argue that Marxism focuses on the crimes of the powerful and ignores intra-class crimes. They are sociologists that have been influenced by ideas of traditional Marxism.
The most important contribution is 'The New Criminology' by Ian Taylor, Paul Walton and Jock Young. Taylor et at argue that traditional Marxism is deterministic. They reject the theory that crime is caused by external factors such as anomie. They take a more voluntaristic view (that we have free will). They see crime as a conscious choice. Taylor et al aim to create what they call a 'fully social theory of deviance' - an understanding of crime and deviance. In their view, a complete theory of deviance needs to unite 6 aspects:
1. The wider origins of the deviant act
2. The immediate origins of the deviant act
3. The act itself
4. The immediate origins of social reaction
5. The wider origins of social reaction
6. The effects of labelling The six aspects are interrelated and need to be understood together as part of a single unified theory. It has been criticised on several grounds: Feminists criticise it for being 'gender blind' focusing on male criminality at the expense of female criminality. Left realists make 2 related criticisms:

Criminal criminology romanticises the working class criminals as 'Robin Hood' when they prey on the poor.

Secondly, they don't take crime seriously and ignore the effects on working class victims Hopkins Burke argues that critical criminology of too general to explain crime, and too idealistic to be useful in tackling crime. Feminists criticise it for being 'gender blind' focusing
Taylor, Walton and Young have all changed their views since their book was published, but still defend some aspects of the book's approach.
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