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CRIMINOLOGY - Essay Example

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The following is an analysis of crime in relation to two schools within social theory that have been influential. Presented in the following, is 'conflict theory' and 'functionalism'. Both theories have their roots in the nineteenth century as Karl Marx's thought was critical to the development of conflict theory, and Emile Durkheim was important to functionalism…
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Download file to see previous pages It will be argued that both theories lack a basic explanation of psychology or the human agents involved in criminal behaviour. Thus, while both theories explain crime and deviance on a 'macro-level', they present problems on the micro level by not providing sufficient explanation for individual deviance. It will be argued that functionalism was a useful model in an era where society was less fragmented, while 'social conflict' continues to be a useful model because the material conditions underlying crime have persisted. CONFLICT THEORY The notion of conflict theory, is one which is grounded or established in the basic Marxist principle of the class struggle, p. “crime as a legal definition of human conduct is created by agents of the dominant class in a politically organized society” [Adler & Adler, Ed., 2000, p. 65]. In Marxist terms, what Quinney argues is that the law essentially exists to serve the interests of the ruling class. Conversely, deviance and the social construction along with the legal constructions of definitions of deviance, has the further agenda of protecting the interests of a particular group of people in society. That is, the interests of those who construct and often enforce the law. ...
65] constructions of any given society. In these terms, it can be maintained that this approach through ‘material’ measures, is also empirical, and as such, this paper is arguing that it provides the most adequate theory in terms of an assimilation of conflict theory, differential association and labeling theory . In this sense, some more comments on the empirical details of conflict theory ought to be raised and examined. A good example of the ‘empirical’ nature of ‘conflict theory’, and by ‘empirical’, it is implied in terms of employing a pronounced consideration of material conditions, is the notion of property. As the author in question argues, the structure of power is also established through wealth, and this represents property. In these terms, property is regarded as one of the most core or central rights within Western industrialized democracies. That is, if it is ‘capital’ and ‘property’ which are that which determine wealth and power, and in turn, there is a basic desire to maintain this, it follows that by strictly protecting property class interests or class conflict is perpetuated. Another important component of the theory in question, anticipates how ‘differential theory’ can improve upon this foundation. In conflict theory, one of the cornerstones for explaining law in terms of class structure, and power relations, is the notion of ‘socialization’. To maintain that there is in a sense, a coercive nature to law in the sense that there is a bonding of the educated and class elite along with, on the other hand, an association which occurs similarly among the more impoverished classes. For instance, it is a statistic of the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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