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May 16, 2018 / C H Thompson

Right realism and crime – revision notes with evaluative points

There’s two parts to realism; there are right realists and there are left realists.

Right realists reject the idea that crime is caused by the structures in society, such as social inequality. They argue other perspectives of crime for example interactionist perspective (labelling theory) is too sympathetic towards the criminal, and too harsh on the criminal justice system.

They argue academics need to ‘get real’ regarding criminals preferring to focus on crime reduction and crime prevention, rather than tackling the causes of crime.

Wilson (1975) argued that attempts to tackle the causes of crime are pointless and the best solution to it is to reduce the impact of crime on people’s lives by catching the criminals this is because:

  • Wilson and Herrnstein argue being a criminal is a matter of choice,
  • and the way men are socialised in the family, school and the wider community has a large impact on our future behaviour
  • poor discipline within both inside and outside of the home encourages a lack of control
  • rising crime results from our culture emphasising immediate gratification, low impulse control and self-expression
  • this results in the poorly socialised becoming less likely to conform to society’s norms and values

Charles Murray (1990) looked into the development of an underclass of single parent families on state welfare and argued

  • children/teenagers from single parent families are the ones to blame for delinquent behaviour as they haven’t been socialised properly
  • he also argues that the underclass is growing in the USA and the UK due to an increase in welfare dependency
  • this growing dependency stems from to a decrease in marriage and an increase in lone parent families
  • Lone parent families with the absence of a father figure mean that boys lack the appropriate male role models
  • resulting in these young boys turning to other role models on the street that are often delinquent


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