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Critical Theory

Critical Theory

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Critical Theory

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  1. Critical Theory

  2. Variations of Critical Theory Conflict Theory Marxist/Radical Theory Left Realism/Peacemaking Feminist Criminology/Gender and Crime

  3. Pluralistic Conflict—Explanation of the Law and Criminal Justice • George Vold Group Conflict • Multiple groups in society with varying levels of power ▪ Political interest groups ▪ Social movements ▪ Broad segments of society ▪ Political parties • Those who win conflict get control over the law and coercive power of the state

  4. Empirical Evidence • The formulation of law • Interest groups’ influence on law-making • Research on consensus over laws • The operation of the CJS • Research on “extra-legal” variables • “Legal” = prior record, offense seriousness • “extra” = RACE, CLASS, GENDER • Demeanor?

  5. Race, Crime, and Criminal Justice • After controlling for legal factors, race-CJS studies are all over the board • Especially if one controls for demeanor (Reiss, 1966 observed police) • Research issues • The meaning of prior record and demeanor • How to isolate and study bias • Different stages of the legal system

  6. Race and Justice II Racial profiling ▪ Difficult to determine ▪ Minorities more likely to live in high-crime areas ▪ Alfred Blumstein ▪ Racial disparity in incarceration due largely to disparities in arrest rates ▪ Blacks at a disadvantage in the criminal justice system, especially for less serious crimes

  7. Where the Evidence is Clear • Race and Capital Punishment • Victim x Race interactions • Race and Drug Prosecutions • Long history of connecting drugs to “dangerous” populations • Chinese  Opium • Mexicans  Marijuana • African Americans  Crack Cocaine e • “Crack Multiplier” • Enforcement patterns for drug offenses

  8. Conflict: An Explanationof Street Crime • Thorston Sellin (1938) • Cultural conflict theory • Gist: violate laws of the majority simply by following the norms of one’s own reference group • George Vold (1958) • Group conflict theory (crime that results from conflict) • Labor strife, protest-related crime

  9. Karl Marx • Communist Manifesto • Means of production determine the structure of society • Capitalism: • Owners of the means of production (capitalists) • Workers = proletariat, lumpen proletariat

  10. Capitalism will Self-Destruct The laboring class produces goods that exceed the value of their wages (profit) The owners invest the profit to reduce the workforce (technology) The workers will no longer be able to afford the goods produced by the owners

  11. Wilhelm Adrian Bonger ▪ Early attempt to tie Marx and Crime Together ▪ Altruism as a defining characteristic of society and human nature ▪ Egoism characterizes capitalist society ▪ Capitalism builds social irresponsibility and creates a climate of crime ▪ Solution: socialism (which allows altruism to flourish)

  12. Marxist/Radical Criminology • Instrumental Marxist Position • Hard line position • Crime and the creation and enforcement of law the direct result of capitalism • Structural Marxist Position • Softer Position • Governments are somewhat autonomous • Over time, the direction of the law (creation and enforcement) will lean towards the capitalists

  13. Instrumental Marxist Criminology • Richard Quinney (1980) • All Conflict is organized around capitalist versus the poor • Either you are an oppressed lackey or a capitalist • Anyone who does not realize this (or identifies with capitalism) has false class consciousness • The real power and authority is exclusive to the ruling class

  14. Quinney (1980) cont. • Primary goal of capitalists? Maintain Power! • To do this, must trample rights of others • But, also must portray an egalitarian society • Accomplished by controlling media, academics

  15. Implications for Law • Capitalists control the definition of crime • Laws protect the capitalists (property, $) • Laws ignore crimes of the capitalists (profiteering)

  16. Implications for the Criminal Justice System • CJS is the tool of the capitalists; used to oppress (not protect) the working population • Crimes of the rich treated with kid gloves • Property crimes strictly enforced • “Street crimes” are enforced only in poor neighborhoods • Incarceration to control surplus labor

  17. Implications for Crime? • Crimes of the Capitalists (must control) • Economic Domination • Crimes of the Government • Crimes of Control • Social Injuries (should be crimes) • Crimes of the Lower Class • “Rebellion” • Crimes of “Accommodation”

  18. POLICY IMPLICATION? • The policy implication of Marxist Criminology is clear. • Dismantle the capitalist structure in favor of a socialist structure.

  19. Criticisms Radical/Marxist Criminology An “underdog theory” with little basis in fact Are “socialist societies” any different? Other capitalist countries have low crime rates Most crime is poor against poor—Marxists ignore the plight of the poor.

  20. Jeffrey Reiman ▪The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison ▪ Key point = harmful acts of the rich are often ignored (unneccesary surgery, environmental harm, etc.) • White collar crime less serious and less likely to be enforced ▪ Pollution, Hazardous work conditions, Unsafe products, Insider trading, Embezzlement, Fraud ▪ Even wealthy people who engage in street crime are less likely to be formally charged and better able to avoid sanctioning

  21. Elliot Currie—Slightly Less Radical ▪ Only some forms of capitalism encourage crime ▪ Market economy (compassionate capitalism) • Japan (Top down) • Scandinavian (Bottom up) ▪ Market society (high levels of inequality and poverty) ▪ Solution: softer, gentler capitalist society

  22. Elliot Currie ▪ Mechanisms that link market societies to high rates of violence ▪ Destroys livelihoods ▪ Tendency toward extremes of inequality ▪ Weakens public support ▪ Erodes informal social support ▪ Promotes a culture of competition and consumption ▪ Deregulates the technology of violence ▪ Weakens alternative political values and institutions

  23. Gender and Crime • Feminist Criminology • Relationships between gender, crime, and the criminal justice system • Gender Ratio and Generalizability

  24. Feminist Criminology ▪ Emphasizes equal opportunity and importance of sex-role socializations ▪ Focus on “patriarchy”—male dominance exerted over females through financial and physical power ▪ Types ▪ Liberal feminism ▪ Socialist feminism ▪ Radical feminism

  25. Feminist Criminology • Good example of conflict theory in action • Feminists responsible for shaping the law and law enforcement • Marital Rape • Intimate Partner Violence • Feminists also largely responsible for the recent focus on gender/crime issues

  26. Gender-Crime ▪ Gender ratio (Gender Gap) ▪ Males account for the vast majority of delinquent and criminal offending ▪ UCR, NCVS, self-report ▪ Gender gap shrinking? • Liberation hypothesis (Not supported by research) • WHY is gender ratio so large? • Can traditional theories explain? (Social bond, delinquent peers, etc.) • Masculinity & sex roles

  27. Gender and Crime II • Generaliziblity issue • Can “Male” theories explain female offending? • Many theories blatantly sexist (See, Cohen) • Many theories simply ignore females • Mainstream theories do explain male and female offending similarly • Could we do better explaining female criminality? • Salience of sexual/physical abuse among delinquent girls

  28. Daly’s Typology of female offending ▪ Street women ▪ Harmed-and-harming women ▪ Battered women ▪ Drug-connected women ▪ Other women

  29. Gender and the Criminal Justice System ▪ Research findings ▪ When gender effects are found, females are treated more leniently • Chivalry Hypothesis • Paternalism Hypothesis • Seriousness of offense differs in ways that most research doesn’t count • Sort-of-legal-factors (“familied”)