Chapter EightConflict Theory Criminology 9th and 10th edition Larry J. Siegel © 2003 Wadsworth Publishing Co.
CONFLICT Criminologists who view crime as a function of social conflict and economic rivalry are aligned with a number of schools of thought, referred to as: CRITICAL MARXIST RADICAL Schools of Thought
The goal of social conflict theorists is to explain crime within economic and social contexts and to express the connections among social class, crime and social control. Crime is an outcome of class struggle. Issues of concern to them include: • The role government plays in creating a criminogenic environment. • The relationship of personal or group power in controlling and shaping the criminal law. • The role of bias in the operations of the justice system. • The relationship between a capitalist free-enterprise economy and crime rates.
Workers (Proletariat) Owners of Production (Capitalist Bourgeoisie) The Non-Productive (Lumpen Proletariat) Marxist View of Class PROFITS WAGES
Willem Bonger (1876-1940) • It is not the absolute amount of wealth that affects crime but its distribution. • If wealth is unequally distributed and people believe wealth means superiority, then the inferior will be crime-prone. • The economic system will intensify personal disadvantages and will increase propensity to commit crime. • Crime will disappear if society progresses from competitive capitalism, to monopoly capitalism.
Every society is at every point subject to processes of change; social change is everywhere. Every society displays at every point dissent and conflict; social conflict is everywhere. Every society is based on the coercion of some of its members by others. Every element in a society renders a contribution to its disintegration and change. Dahrendorf’s Unified Conflict Theory of Human Behavior.
The Social Reality of Crime The social reality of crime is constructed by the formulation and application of criminal definitions, the development of behavior patterns to criminal definitions, and the construction of criminal conceptions. Richard Quinney, 1970
Questions According to Quinney, what factors are criminal definitions based on? What is the “proposition” of the Social Reality of Crime?
Conflict Theory STRENGTHS Accounts for class differentials in the crime rate. Shows how class conflict influences behavior. MAJOR PREMISE Crime is a function of class conflict. The definition of the law is controlled by people who hold social and political power.
Questions Could conflict theory explain the relationship of race/ethnicity and crime as well as class? If so, in what way? Would all racial groups be affected the same?
Conflict Theory versus Consensus Theory • Conflict Theory:Criminal law is a weapon utilized by the powerful to maintain dominance. Crime is a means to fight back against those in power. • Consensus Theory:Criminal law reflects the values of the majority which equal a just society. Crime, therefore, violates the rights of others.
Marxist Theory(Critical Criminology) MAJOR PREMISE The capitalist means of production creates class conflict. Crime is a rebellion of the lower class. The criminal justice system is an agent of class warfare. STRENGTHS Accounts for the associations between economic structure and crime rates.
Questions What is Instrumental Critical Theory? What is Structural Critical Theory?
Instrumental Critical Theory MAJOR PREMISE Criminals are revolutionaries. The real crime is sexism, racism, and profiteering. The criminal law and the criminal justice system are solely instruments for controlling the poor. STRENGTHS Broadens the definition of crime and demystifies or explains the historical development of law. In other words, how capitalist law preserves ruling-class power.
Major Premise The law is designed to sustain the capitalist economic system. Strengths Explains the existence of white-collar crime and business control laws. Structural Critical Theory
Critiques of Critical Criminology • Most theft is for luxury, not survival. • Marxists unfairly neglect the efforts of the capitalist system to regulate itself. • Marxists refuse to address the problems and conflicts that exist in socialist countries. • Marxists fail to explain why some highly capitalist countries, such a Japan, have extremely low crime rates. • Marxists are too quick to blame for every human vice without adequate explanation or regard for other social and environmental factors.
Questions What is critical feminism? – Patriarchy and crime? Explain left realism and preemptive deterrence.
Power Control TheoryA Critical Feminist Theory(John Hagan) • Crime and delinquency rates are a function of: Class Position (Power) Family Function (Control) • Parents’ work experiences and class position influence the criminality of their children. • In paternalistic families, male siblings exhibit a higher degree of delinquent behavior than their sisters. • In egalitarian families, daughters law-violating behaviors mirror their brothers’.
Questions What is restorative justice? and, How does restorative justice address social conflict theory and public policy?
Social Conflict Theories:Peacemaking – Restorative Justice MAJOR PREMISE Peace and humanism can reduce crime; conflict resolution strategies can work. STRENGTHS Offers a new approach to crime control through mediation.
Question What are victim concerns about restorative justice? Give examples. Explain reintegrative shaming.