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May 10, 2018 / C H Thompson

Neo-Marxist perspective of crime – revision notes with evaluative points

Neo-marxists take on many ideas of traditional Marxism but also combine them with ideas from other approaches such as interactionist approach. By doing this, they attempt to be less deterministic.

They have attempted to focus more on the meanings behind criminal acts, rather than just the acts themselves.

Taylor, Watson and Young

Taylor et al (1973) agree that capitalist society creates inequality, and that the enforcement of laws can lead to working class crime. However, they reject the deterministic view of traditional Marxism, and instead say that the individuals make a choice to commit crime.

Taylor et al suggested that the theory needs to consider 6 aspects:

  1. The wider social origins of deviance -> the wider context of crime
  2. The immediate origins of deviance -> the context in which the individual decided to commit the crime
  3. The meaning of the act to the individual -> what was the meaning for the act
  4. The immediate origins of societal reaction -> the response from people close to the deviant
  5. Wider origins of societal reaction -> the reaction from wider society
  6. Outcomes of societal reactions on deviants behaviour -> what happens to the deviant once they are labelled

Using points 2, 3 and 6 above we can better understand Stuart Hall and Paul Gilroy’s neo-Marxist view of crime and deviance.

  • Stuart Hall’s ‘Policing the Crisis’ is a study of a moral panic over ‘mugging’ in the 1970s
  • In the 1970s a moral panic over mugging happened in Britain
  • Mugging is a concept which was imported from the US in the 1970s and tended to refer to being robbed by black men
  • During the 1970s several newspapers repeatedly reported incidents of mugging


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