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Realist Theories - Essay Example

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Criminology is an ever expanding field of knowledge, the efforts towards understanding; curtailing and preventing crime has been as varied as the various theories about crime and criminality that abounds. In this respect, several opinions have been proffered as what constitutes crime and what does not, or the intent and motivations behind criminality…
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Realist Theories
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"Realist Theories"

Download file to see previous pages Of the numerous criminology theories that have been propounded over the centuries, the 'realist' theories grew out of the desire to shift attention from theoretical rumblings, and as the name suggests, take a more realistic, practical and proactive steps towards combating crime. The right and left realist theories could be seen as ideological polar opposites, that though, share the similarity of intention to combat crime practically, still took varying approaches to what constitutes crime and what could be considered as appropriate solutions to criminality (Matthews and Young, 1992).
The Right Realism Theory, also known as New Right Realism, Neo-Classicism or Neo-Positivism, considers the phenomenon of crime from the perspective of political Conservatism. It argues that its views takes a more realistic view of the causes of crime and deviance, and identifies the best mechanisms for crime control. The theory has its origins in Control Theory and, as such, it is related to the functionalist theories of crime. In this model it is argued that fundamental types of control exist:
i. Direct Control: by which punishment is threatened or applied for wrongful behaviour, and compliance is rewarded by parents, family, and authority figures.
ii. Indirect Control: by which a youth refrains from delinquency because his or her delinquent act might cause pain and disappointment to parents and others with whom he or she has close relationships.
iii. Internal Control: by which a person's conscience or sense of guilt prevents him or her from engaging in delinquent acts (Lowman and MacLean, 1992).
The main focus of the right realist is the control and prevention of criminal behaviours. The right realist believes that criminals must be prevented from breaking criminal laws, with appropriate social structures, such as zero police tolerance, and if crime is committed, the offender should be severely penalized, to serve as deterrence (Akers, 1990). The major point of variance of the right realist theory from other criminology theories is that unlike most of the other theories, the right realist does not concern himself with the exploration of the concepts of power and structures in the society, or with the cumbersome scientific process of developing or investigating the role of causality (i.e. causes), in relation to crime and deviance. There is thus, an over dependence on official statistics of criminality and crime rates, as evidences for policy making. The right realist therefore adopts the language of "realism" to describe the lawmaking process, instead of addressing the causes of the "crimes" being created. James Q. Wilson who was President Regan's adviser on crime, for example, rejects the idea that crime has "root causes" that can be found in the structural contexts of people's lives (Clarke and Cornish 1985; Lowman and MacLean, 1992).
In rejecting the basis of the several structural explanation of crime, the right realist thus turns to cultural and social explanations for criminality. They see crime as a result of decline in family values or social ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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