Conflict Theory - University of Minnesota Duluth

Conflict Theory - University of Minnesota Duluth

CRITICAL THEORIES Cant we all just get along? CRITICAL THEORIES IN CONTEXT In 1950-1960s = strain Policy = provide opportunity to those who lack means for achieving legitimate success. Turmoil of 1960s criminologists become more skeptical Politicians and other interests groups lack will to make real changes

Cloward and Ohlin story Many groups actively oppose providing opportunities CONSENSUS VS. CONFLICT Law reflect shared belief about what is wrong Law resolves conflicts and maintains order

The state is neutral Bias is temporary and unintentional Consensus Law is an end process in a conflict over values Bias is built into the law (winners punish losers) The state (CJS) responds to the

needs of those in power (not neutral) Conflict CRITICAL THEORY Central Themes Emphasis on inequality and power Crime as political concept CJS serves interests of powerful Solution to crime is more equitable society EXPLANATION OF LAW and CJ SYSTEM rather than crime VARIATIONS OF CRITICAL

THEORY Conflict Theory Marxist/Radical Theory Left Realism/Peacemaking Feminist Criminology/Gender and Crime PLURALISTIC CONFLICTEXPLANATION OF THE LAW AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE George Vold Group Conflict Multiple groups in society with varying levels of power

Political interest groups Social movements Broad segments of society Political parties Those who win conflict get control over the law and coercive power of the state EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE The formulation of law Interest groups influence on law-making Research on consensus over laws

The operation of the CJS Research on extra-legal variables Legal = prior record, offense seriousness extra = RACE, CLASS, GENDER Demeanor? RACE, CRIME, AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE After controlling for legal factors, raceCJS studies are all over the board Especially

if one controls for demeanor (Reiss, 1966 observed police) Research issues The meaning of prior record and demeanor How to isolate and study bias Different stages of the legal system RACE AND JUSTICE II Racial profiling

Difficult to determine Minorities more likely to live in highcrime areas Alfred Blumstein Racial disparity in incarceration due largely to disparities in arrest rates Blacks at a disadvantage in the criminal justice system, especially for less serious crimes WHERE THE EVIDENCE IS CLEAR Race and Capital Punishment Victim

x Race interactions Race and Drug Prosecutions Long history of connecting drugs to dangerous populations Chinese Opium Mexicans Marijuana African Americans Crack Cocaine e Crack Multiplier Enforcement

patterns for drug offenses CONFLICT: AN EXPLANATION OF STREET CRIME Thorston Sellin (1938) Cultural conflict theory Gist: violate laws of the majority simply by following the norms of ones own reference group George Vold (1958) Group conflict theory (crime that results

from conflict) Labor strife, protest-related crime KARL MARX Communist Manifesto Means of production determine the structure of society Capitalism: Owners of the means of production (capitalists)

Workers = proletariat, lumpen proletariat CAPITALISM WILL SELFDESTRUCT The laboring class produces goods that exceed the value of their wages (profit) The owners invest the profit to reduce the workforce (technology) The workers will no longer be able to afford the goods produced by the owners WILHELM ADRIAN BONGER

Early attempt to tie Marx and Crime Together Altruism as a defining characteristic of society and human nature Egoism characterizes capitalist society Capitalism builds social irresponsibility and creates a climate of crime Solution: socialism (which allows altruism to flourish) MARXIST/RADICAL CRIMINOLOGY

Instrumental Marxist Position Hard line position Crime and the creation and enforcement of law the direct result of capitalism Structural Marxist Position Softer Position Governments are somewhat autonomous Over time, the direction of the law (creation and

enforcement) will lean towards the capitalists INSTRUMENTAL MARXIST CRIMINOLOGY Richard Quinney (1980) All Conflict is organized around capitalist versus the poor Either you are an oppressed lackey or a capitalist Anyone who does not realize this (or identifies with capitalism) has false class consciousness The real power and authority is exclusive to the ruling

class QUINNEY (1980) CONT. Primary goal of capitalists? Maintain Power! To do this, must trample rights of others But, also must portray an egalitarian society Accomplished by controlling media, academics IMPLICATIONS FOR LAW Capitalists control the definition of crime Laws protect the capitalists (property, $) Laws ignore crimes of the capitalists

(profiteering) IMPLICATIONS FOR THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM CJS is the tool of the capitalists; used to oppress (not protect) the working population Crimes of the rich treated with kid gloves Property crimes strictly enforced Street crimes are enforced only in poor neighborhoods Incarceration to control surplus labor

IMPLICATIONS FOR CRIME? Crimes of the Capitalists (must control) Economic Domination Crimes of the Government Crimes of Control Social Injuries (should be crimes) Crimes of the Lower Class Rebellion Crimes of Accommodation POLICY IMPLICATION?

The policy implication of Marxist Criminology is clear. Dismantle the capitalist structure in favor of a socialist structure. CRITICISMS RADICAL/MARXIST CRIMINOLOGY An underdog theory with little basis in fact

Are socialist societies any different? Other capitalist countries have low crime rates Most crime is poor against poor Marxists ignore the plight of the poor. JEFFREY REIMAN The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison Key point = harmful acts of the rich are often ignored (unneccesary surgery, environmental harm, etc.) White collar crime less serious and less likely to be enforced

Pollution, Hazardous work conditions, Unsafe products, Insider trading, Embezzlement, Fraud Even wealthy people who engage in street crime are less likely to be formally charged and better able to avoid sanctioning ELLIOT CURRIESLIGHTLY LESS RADICAL Only some forms of capitalism encourage crime Market economy (compassionate capitalism)

Japan (Top down) Scandinavian (Bottom up) Market society (high levels of inequality and poverty) Solution: softer, gentler capitalist society ELLIOT CURRIE Mechanisms that link market societies to high rates of violence

Destroys livelihoods Tendency toward extremes of inequality Weakens public support Erodes informal social support Promotes a culture of competition and consumption Deregulates the technology of violence Weakens alternative political values and institutions GENDER AND CRIME

Feminist Criminology Relationships between gender, crime, and the criminal justice system Gender Ratio and Generalizability FEMINIST CRIMINOLOGY Emphasizes equal opportunity and importance of sex-role socializations Focus on patriarchymale dominance exerted over females through financial and physical power

Types Liberal feminism Socialist feminism Radical feminism FEMINIST CRIMINOLOGY Good example of conflict theory in action

Feminists responsible for shaping the law and law enforcement Marital Rape Intimate Partner Violence Feminists also largely responsible for the recent focus on gender/crime issues GENDER-CRIME Gender ratio (Gender Gap)

Males account for the vast majority of delinquent and criminal offending UCR, NCVS, self-report Gender gap shrinking? Liberation hypothesis (Not supported by research) WHY is gender ratio so large? Can traditional theories explain? (Social

bond, delinquent peers, etc.) Masculinity & sex roles GENDER AND CRIME II Generaliziblity issue Can Male theories explain female offending? Many theories blatantly sexist (See, Cohen) Many theories simply ignore females Mainstream theories do explain male and

female offending similarly Could we do better explaining female criminality? Salience of sexual/physical abuse among delinquent girls DALYS TYPOLOGY OF FEMALE OFFENDING Street women Harmed-and-harming women

Battered women Drug-connected women Other women GENDER AND THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM Research findings When gender effects are found, females are treated more leniently Chivalry Hypothesis

Paternalism Hypothesis Seriousness of offense differs in ways that most research doesnt count Sort-of-legal-factors (familied)

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