Assess the usefulness of the Marxist theory to our understandings of crime and law enforcement?
Marxist argue that the nature and organization of capitalism creates the potential for criminal behaviour. Gordon argues that it is inevitable as the capitalist system is characterized by the class inequalities etc. in addition to this, the ideology itself inexplicitly promotes criminal behaviour in all social classes. Marxist would see law enforcement as a form of control over who gets prosecuted (working class) within society. The theory is useful to some extent as the arguments below demonstrate.
For Marxist crime is inevitable due to the capitalist society being criminogenic. Capitalism is characterized by the exploitation of the working class as means to achieving their goal of more profit, therefore capitalism is damaging to the working class and in most cases leads to a rise in criminal activity. Alienation, poverty and consumerism in society has motivated majority of criminals to commit criminal/deviant acts. This has led to a rise in white collar crimes, Crolla argued this is the abuse of an occupational role where they evading paying tax and the use of financial fraud were typical examples. For example Jordan Belfort was labelled the ‘the real wolf of Wolf Street’ went from being a door to door salesman to using the manipulative ‘pump and dump’ method with various major businesses on the market. This resulted in Belfort becoming a really wealthy business owner who lived a luxury lifestyle from exploiting those within his class. On the other hand, the explanation can be criticized as they prioritise class and ignore the relationship between crime and important non-class variables such as ethnicity and gender. Therefore the Marxist theory is useful in this case of explaining crime, however the only negative is their focus on class and capitalism.
Marxist, have labelled law enforcement as an ideological state apparatus, which operates to only benefit the...