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Theories of crime for criminal justice class - Term Paper Example

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Conflict Theories in The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia CRJ 360 19 November 2013 The Whites of Boone County, West Virginia cannot be easily described in one word. On the one hand, defense attorneys illustrated them as “dangerous” lawless elements (Doering & Nitzberg, 2009)…
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Download file to see previous pages The documentary followed the Whites for one year, interviewing them at various points in their lives, as well as other key people around them, such as the police and lawyers. The paper used conflict theories in analyzing the criminal roots and manifestations of the film, wherein these theories are based on concepts and claims from Durkheim, Marx and Engels (Lilly, Cullen, & Ball, 2011, p. 167). Conflict criminology has several theories, but this paper focuses on the theories from Marx and Engels, Bonger, and Sutherland. Conflict theories generally argue that crime is socially and economically produced, where capitalism breeds social conflicts that produce criminal attitudes and behaviors (Lilly et al., 2011, p. 172). Conflict theories have some explanatory power in understanding some of the causes of the White’s criminology, but they cannot predict or explain the Whites’ individual criminal and non-criminal differences. Conflict theories in criminology have a leftist-realist ideology, where criminality is not merely a product of individual will, but a reaction to social and economic inequalities (Lilly et al., 2011, p. 172). Marx and Engels suggested that capitalism creates a criminogenic environment, which results in class conflicts (Lilly et al., 2011, p. 168). ...
at the ruling class is essentially oppressive, and that they benefit from limiting access to and distribution of resources to the lower classes (Lilly et al., 2011, p. 168). Cowling (2011) explained Marx and Engel’s concept of historical materialism, which views society as composed of an economic base and an ideological and political superstructure that the economic base controlled (p. 66). The law has the role of hastening the development of the economic base, thereby serving the interests of the upper class (Cowling, 2011, p. 66). Empirically, leftist realism’s impact on conflict theory is limited. Cowling (2011) noted that leftist realism has some bearing on criminology, though some of its concepts are too vague to be applied in real life contemporary settings. He explained that “lumpenproletariat is foggy” because Charles Murray’s idea of the underclass is questionable too (Cowling, 2011, p. 61). Murray asserted that because of over-generosity in social welfare of the United States and Britain, they have created a class of “idle thieving bastards” (Cowling, 2011, p. 61). Cowling (2011) did not think that vilifying criminals provided any meaningful analysis to criminology (p. 61). Furthermore, Cowling (2011) noted that the theory of alienation can help explain some aspects of crime, but its vague dimensions cannot always be empirically studied (p. 61). Cowling (2011) asserted that capitalism has shown strong connections with some types of crimes, although capitalism is more of a contingent factor, than a necessary condition or cause of crime itself (p. 65). To understand left realism’s contribution to conflict theory, this section describes its applications to The Wild and Wonderful Whites. Francis M. Curnutte, a defense attorney, expressed his ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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