Marxist View on Crime and Deviance

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Explain and Assess the Marxist explanation of Crime and Deviance

According to Wickham (1991), deviance is behaviour that violates the standards of conduct or expectations of a group or society. Karl Marx says that deviance is due to unequal power relationships and is a function of class struggle. Crime, however, is an act of deviance prohibited by law. The conflict theory of crime states that those in the higher social classes will benefit more from the government, compared to those in the lower class. Thus, conflict will be present in society, and the resulting crime will benefit those in power. Marxists support this view, and focus on the conflict between different sets of groups values.

Marxists believe that all classes in society are deviant and criminal. They disagree that deviance is a working class phenomenon, though they are thought of as the main offenders of crime and deviance. Laws are made by the state, which represent the interests of the ruling class. Marxists tend to emphasise ‘white collar, corporate crime’ and pay less attention to ‘blue collar’ variants. They note that the crimes of the upper class exert a greater economic toll on society than the crimes of the ordinary people. Marxists believe that crime and deviance is a direct outcome of the exploitative nature of the capitalist society. According to him, the ruling class exploits the working class. There are those that “have”, and those that “have not”. They believe that the superstructure (the state, the police, the legal system, the family) maintain and reflect ruling class ideology. The working class is under a state of false class consciousness, and are therefore very vulnerable and easily taken advantage of.rime acts as a way to divert the working class’s attention away from their exploitation, and therefore contains their resistance. Until true class consciousness can be reached by this exploited working class, the ruling class would continue to use crime for their benefit....
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