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Assess the contribution of the Marxist theory

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Marxism is a macro/structural approach to society, meaning that it looks at the large-scale societal structure for answers about how society works and operates and explores crime and deviance in relation to classes within a capitalist society. Marxists claim that laws do not reflect a value consensus, instead laws and law enforcement benefits the rich (protection of private property), and discriminate the poor which brings about social class reproduction, the working class are criminalised for their crimes but the criminal just system are more lenient towards the crimes of the wealth such as white collar crime or corporate crime. According to Marxist capitalism is crimongenic which means that it is the ultimate cause of crime and makes crime inevitable.

Capitalism exploits the poor and encourages greed, competition and consumption of consumer goods through advertising. This leaves the poor frustrated and crime such as stealing may be the only way for them to survive. The wealthy also control the media which they use to promote stereotypes to demonise and stigmatise the poor as the criminal. This can often divides the working class into ‘deserving ‘ and ‘undeserving’ and therefore reduce its power. Marxists also believe that the police and the criminal justice system operate selectively. The poor are targeted and criminalised e.g. benefit fraudsters. However, white collar crime such as tax evasion is rarely prosecuted and often ignores.

When white collar crime is prosecuted it is just to give the impression that the law is equal, this is ideology which can put the working class in a state of false consciousness. Marxism can also be linked to the labelling theory as the police operate in terms of stereotypes. The police target the working class areas and therefore detect more crimes of the poor and demonise them. A Marxist sociologist called Pearce looks into organised gang crime and how the ruling class encourage gang crime when it serves their interest for example in the 1920s USA, Ford used gangs to break up strikes by workers. Pearce also explores how white collar crime is hidden from the masses and this puts them in a state of false consciousness so they do not see the full extent of the white collar crime, this is ideological social control, this is often linked to the media which often portrays stereotypes and demonises.

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