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May 16, 2018 / C H Thompson

Left realism and crime – revision notes with evaluative points

Like Marxists, left realists take a socialist view and are opposed to the inequality of capitalist society which they see as the root cause of crime.

Left realism was developed by Lea and Young, in the 1980s as a response to the criticisms of the Marxist/Neo-Marxist approach to crime and deviance which was criticised for romanticising the working class criminals. It aims to take the rising crime rate seriously and to produce practical solutions.

Lea and Young identify three causes of crime:

Relative Deprivation ->

  • this is how deprived someone is relative to those around them
  • as living standards have risen, so have crime rates
  • although people are now better off, they are also more aware of relative deprivation due to social media, which shows the extent to which wealth isn’t available to many people (Young et al. argues that it is the combination of individualism – the concern for the self and one’s own individual rights rather than those of the group – and relative deprivation.

Subculture ->

  • for left realists, working-class subcultures develop from the problems arising from social inequality
  • a collective subculture develops as a collective solution to relative deprivation
  • criminal subcultures want societies mainstream goals but have to resort to illegitimate means to achieving them

Marginalisation ->

  • some powerless groups find themselves politically and economically on the edge of society through factors out of their control,
  • such as the unemployed youth who have no organisation to represent them and no clear goals to achieve
  • this can lead people to reject the norms and values of society, resulting in deviant and/or criminal behaviour

Continues…

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