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Examine some of the ways in which Marxists explain crime Essay

One way in which Marxists examine crime is the idea that they feel crime is inevitable in capitalism because capitalism in itself is criminogenic. Due to capitalism being based on exploiting the working class by using them as a means of making profit, this is therefore damaging to the working class and arguably explains why crime is committed. Due to the exploitation of the working class, which may lead to poverty and in some cases the only way to survive poverty, is by using crime in order to feed and clothe families. Crime may also be the only way the working class can compete in this world of consumer goods, encouraged by capitalist advertising, resulting in theft and robbery.

Lastly the lack of control the working class have on their lives due to being controlled by their capitalist bosses and government can lead to frustration in the working class which in some situations can only be vented through violent crimes and vandalism. However this theory is floored as not all crime is committed by the working class and this theory does not take into account white collared crime such as tax fraud, therefore Gordon argues that crime is a rational response to the capitalist system and is therefore found in all social classes, even if the statistics say otherwise.

Another Marxist idea that helps explain crime is Selective Enforcement. This is the idea that some Marxist do except that crime is widespread over all classes but the way in which the criminal justice system is applied, is unfair against those in working class and ethnic minorities. Whereas crime committed by the elite is ignored and treated with less severity. This is shown in Reiman’s book “The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison” the book shows that there is a disproportionally high rate of prosecutions against crime associated with the working class such a burglary and assault whereas crime typically committed by the rich such as tax evasion is treated with a more forgiving view in the justice system. This is could be argued to be due to the fact that people whom are more likely to commit tax fraud are affluent and therefore may have links in the justice system and can afford top lawyers.

Neo Marxists are sociologist whom have been influenced by many ideas of traditional Marxists. Taylor agrees with agrees with the following Marxists theories on crime such as, the idea that capitalism exploits the working class, that the state enforces laws to benefit the higher classes and that capitalism should be replaced with a classless state in order for crime rates to decrease. However Taylor feels that that traditional Marxists are deterministic , for example traditional Marxists feel that workers commit crimes out of economic necessity. Whereas neo Marxists such as Taylor are anti-determinism and therefore feel that the reason why many of the working class commit crime is due to external factors such as anomie, subcultures and labelling. Due to this voluntarism view of the causes of crime, Taylor feels the working class aren’t just crime committing puppets and takes a micro approach to causes and looks at individual cases and argues whether external factors such as abuse at young age have taken on effect as to why crime is committed.

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