Evaluate the usefulness of Marxist theory to our understanding of crime and deviance

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Evaluate the usefulness of Marxist theory to our understanding of crime and deviance (40 marks)

Synopticity - Crime & Deviance sociological theory

Marxist explanations of crime and deviance, like their work on other areas like the family and education, rest on an economic and structural analysis of society that sees a class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. This struggle comprises the attempts by the proletariat to free themselves from the domination of the bourgeoisie as they seek to take over the means of production.

David Gordon argues that crime is an inevitable product of capitalism and the inequality that it generates. He argues that inequalities in wealth and income create poverty and homelessness for
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The major problem with Marxist analyses of crime and deviance is with their sweeping generalisations, trying to apply actions to all people that clearly apply to only a minority. Similarly, their assumption that everything is driven by the economic class struggle is hard to sustain. A convincing case can be made that Marxism provides one of the best explanations of many phenomena identified within societies, but the politics of the world has changed and Marxism is no longer the major social movement for liberation from oppression that it used to be, so it is argued that Marxism 's conceptual apparatus has become less relevant. In a society where most people have undergone considerable improvements in their standard of living and where peasant struggles which might have been applicable in the 19th century when Marx was writing seem to be no longer of much relevance. This thus suggests that Marxist theories aren’t useful to our understanding of crime and deviance in contemporary society.

Other writers on crime and deviance strongly disagree with the Marxist analysis. For instance Functionalists might attribute more to imperfect socialisation and see crime as a necessary element of society to help bring about social change but also to reinforce the collective conscience of society. Interactionists criticise Marxists for ignoring the processes involved in criminality and the system, for instance Becker and Lemert focus much more on
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