Social Conflict Perspective on Class, State and Crime
How does Class, state ,and social controls within a capitalistic society lead to increase crime due to the criminal laws and criminal justice system imposed on the lower middle class.
Social conflict theory is the only one out of the vast number of criminology theories that deals directly with this problem. From out of it’s Marxist roots arose a theory which challenges the way in which today’s society views it’s legal system and the implications it has on it’s working class citizens. The nature and purpose of social conflict theories is to examine the social controls made by the ruling class and imposed on the rest of society.
Some theorists say that class order has nothing to do with crime rates in society, but Richard Quinney have made great strides in proving that social class has a direct correlation with crime due to the social controls of a capitalist government. Social conflict theory focuses on why governments make and enforce rules of law and morality then why an individual violates the law. Conflict theorists do not view those who commit deviant behavior as rebels who can’t conform to social norms, they show how criminal law is used as a mechanism for social change.
Conflict theory flourished during the widespread social and political changes of the 1960's, because it challenged the legitimacy of the government’s creation and implication of laws designed to keep the middle- class down. Social Conflict Theory came out of the Marxist thought. “Marx believed that the character of every civilization is determined by its mode of production the way its people develop and produce material goods.”( Senna, pg 226) This concept has two main components: productive forces and productive relationships. Productive forces include things such as technology, energy sources, and material resources.
Productive relationships are relationships between the people producing the goods and services. The most important relationship in industrial culture is between the owners of the means of production and the proletarians. The political and economic belief of the dominate class influences all aspects of life in that workers bend to the whims of the capitalist system.
Thus, the economic system controls all aspects of human life, and these lives are left to revolve around the means of production. Marx believed the system contained the seeds of it’s own destruction in that capitalists are constantly competing to produce goods more efficiently and cheaper. When wages are cut so low that the laboring class is unable to purchase the goods produced there will be an economic crisis. Then when conditions are bad enough the oppressed will rise up against the owners and capitalism will have destroyed itself.
The primary goal of Social Conflict is to examine the relationship between the ruling class and the process by which deviance is defined and controlled in capitalist society. The government creates...