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June 6, 2013 / C H Thompson

Left realism continued

Lea and Young (1984) were critical of Marxists’ ‘myopia about crime’ in the sense they both argued Marxists’ position as being too simplistic by arguing poverty equated to crime and criminal law was a mere expression of ruling-class power. Such views, they felt, allowed right-wing (neo-liberal) philosophy to ease its way onto the political agenda.

Young’s position was similar to right-realism in the sense politicians needed to ‘get-real’ but not through mere hard-line punitive measures but instead by recognising their is a serious crime problem – in particular street crime.

But Young’s position advocated a need to search for the social causes of crime. Such a move along with alternatives to custody, reduced custodial sentences, along victim restoration schemes would restore public confidence. From such a standpoint left realists argue:

  • crime really is a problem
  • more focus needs to be on victims of crime
  • localised victim studies need to record the ‘reality’ of crime for victims
  • fear of crime is ‘real’ rather than emotional
  • causes of crime need to be examined in more detail

All the above factors show how crime (from left-realist perspective) needs to be understood in the context of relative deprivation.

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