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April 20, 2011 / C H Thompson

Left realist perspectives of crime

Realist criminology (whether left or right realist) are a response to a perceived intensity in the public’s fear of crime. Therefore realist perspectives concentrate on crimes which the public tend to fear most such as street crime, mugging, violence etc., rather than crimes of the powerful (as Marxist’s do). In essence realist criminology is saying to feminist, Marxist  etc., ‘get real’ your ideas are too abstract.

This shift came mainly from ‘law and order’ issue becoming an ever increasing concern to politicians such as Thatcher. Much of this increased concern came from the expansion of gathering crime data in the 1980s particularly the introduction of the British Crime Survey (Mike Maguire, 2005). Within this context police powers were extended, along with tougher sentencing and imprisonment options being given to the courts.

New ’realist’ criminologists such as Wilson moved away from liberal ideas of rehabilitation towards tougher punitive measures aimed at punishing evil or wicked people thus deterring these people from ever offending again. However left-realist criminology emerged as a reaction to the right-realist political climate but also they were reacting the idealism of Marxist and neo-Marxist perspectives – which is best imagined as a ‘hug-a-hoodie’ mentality, whereby society had to concern itself as much with the culprit as the victim.

The clip below describes the key aspects of left-realism. However there’s more detail you need to know.

Revision podcast Left Realist Perspective

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