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Why did Left Realists argue that a new approach was needed?

Why did Left Realists argue that a new approach was needed?. Take note in each paragrapher

·  Read the attached sheets on left and right realism. Design one quiz question for each of the focus points (see sheet – there are 3 focus points for left realism and 3 focus points for right realism so you will come up with 6 quiz questions in total).

·  Once you have read the sheets on left and right realism (and designed your 6 questions)

Left realist

Focus point 1: Why did Left Realists argue that a new approach was needed?

Focus point 2: How do Left Realists explain crime?

Focus point 3: what solutions do Left Realists offer to tackle crime?

Focus point 3: what solutions do Left Realists offer to tackle crime?

Right realism

Focus point 1: what does NOT cause crime according to Right Realists?

Focus point 2: what does cause crime according to Right Realists?

Focus point 3: what solutions are offered by Right Realists to tackle crime?

Left Realism

Focus point 1: Why did Left Realists argue that a new approach was needed?

Problems with the idealism of Marxist and Neo-Marxist approaches:

Left realists have argued that ‘left idealists’ have not provided policies on law and order as alternatives to  those provided by  right wing politicians who have portrayed themselves as the guardians of law and order.  They have been unable, therefore to counter the appeal of right wing policies. Can you see how Marxist and Neo-marxist approaches, as well as some interactionist research might be accused of this?

A need to recognise realities of crime

Left realists focus on the reality of crime, rather than on who defines or creates laws and how crime is socially constructed – which left ‘idealists’ tend to.  They argue that some groups in society are particularly likely to be victims of crime – often those most powerless and that left idealists pay little attention to this. They argue that whilst middle class and corporate crime is likely to be under estimated in the figures, that it is still likely that poorer and more excluded members of society; including some ethnic minority groups, are more likely to perpetrate certain types of crime e.g. street crime.

Acknowledging the ‘real’ problem of crime and fear of crime allows left realists to consider the implications on people e.g. women fearing going out in the dark

A need to counter some of the romanticised images of criminals

Left realists have criticised the image presented by some Marxist and neo-marxist  writers of criminals as promoting justice or fighting back against oppression (or Robin Hood type figures). E.g. most victims of robbery and burglary are themselves poor

Focus point 2: How do Left Realists explain crime?

Relative deprivation

Crime is seen as rooted in social conditions and closely related to deprivation, BUT, there is not a simple relationship between poverty / unemployment and crime. Many crimes are committed by more affluent members of society for example. What matters is whether deprivation is experienced as ‘relative deprivation’ e.g. compared to those around you or wider society. A consumer culture and the role of the media in advertising can play a big role in this.

Subculture

Groups of individuals experiencing relative deprivation will develop lifestyles that enable them to cope with the problem. Human creativity is emphasised – crime is only the response of a minority to this situation of oppression – other responses include Pentecostalism and Rastafarianism among second generation Caribbean immigrants.

Marginalisation

Marginal groups are not well represented in society through organisations such as political affiliations, trade union membership, or other avenues through which their ‘voice’ might be heard. Marginalised groups are seen as more likely to resort to violence and rioting as forms of political action.

Focus point 3: what solutions do Left Realists offer to tackle crime?

Improve Policing

Policing needs to move to policing by consensus. Build up community relations etc… public confidence in the police needed to improve(especially in the 1980s context when the Brixton and Toxteth riots had occurred and at a time when the police were often seen as puppets of a right wing state e.g. policing of the miners strike)

Police rely greatly on the public – 90% of crimes known to police are brought to their attention by the public (Kinsley, Lea & Young, 1986) – if information from the public dries up due to lack of confidence, then police have to resort to tactics like stop and search or drift towards ‘military policiing’ – public confidence gets worse… vicious cycle

Community policing – needs to develop. Police should respond more to needs and desires of the communities they serve. Stop over-policing things like minor juvenile offences and focus on more serious crimes which they should investigate e.g. corporate crime, domestic violence, racially motivated attacks etc…

Tackle the social causes of crime

Redistribution of wealth needed – socialism. Reduce income inequalities. Changing policing alone will not solve the problem of crime.

Improve equality, opportunity and freedom of choice. Reduce unemployment, improve housing estates, provide better community facilities, leisure facilities etc…

The Square of Crime – a multifaceted approach needed.

Focus on the 4 elements – the state, the offender, the public (or informal social control) , the victim THE SQUARE OF CRIME.  Need to understand why people offend, what makes victims vulnerable, what affects public attitudes and what social factors influence the police and formal agencies of control.

Right realism

Associated with American sociologists James Q. Wilson and Richard Hernstein

Focus point 1: what does NOT cause crime according to Right Realists?

Poverty

Wilson argued that poverty was not an important factor in crime.  He gives the example that in the 1960s USA anti-poverty programmes happened alongside increases in crime. In addition to this, it should be noted that many poor people do not commit crime.

Crime can neither be explained nor tackled through welfare programmes or policies to redistribute wealth

Focus point 2: what does cause crime according to Right Realists?

Wilson focused in particular on the rational calculations made by those who commit crime regarding the likely cost and benefits of their criminal actions

Later Wilson and Hernstein argued that there was a significant biological element to crime – some people are biologically predisposed to commit crime; this, alongside inadequate socialisation makes it more probable.

Still focused on rational cost benefit – over generous welfare system makes crime pay – no need to work hard and hold a job down.

In their 1982 article ‘Broken  Windows’ Wilson and Kelling focused on how the physical environment can give cues to people about a lack of social control and can lead to more crime– indicating that  social rules have broken down – e.g in estates where windows are broken and graffiti is everywhere – people who are not criminals are scared to go out, this means that there is less informal social control  through the presence of law-biding citizens on the streets and those predisposed to commit crime are more likely to do so.

Focus point 3: what solutions are offered by Right Realists to tackle crime?

Cost vs benefit – need to increase the cost or reduce the benefit to criminals:

BUT Simply increasing punishments is not the answer – so few get caught so it is not a good detterent. Swift and definite punishments might work but are not common.

Instead focus might be on things like methadone for heroin addicts (cost of heroin outweighs benefits) and making communities stronger so offenders have more to lose (standing in community)

Wilson and kelling 1982 Broken Windows – police and councils must react to first signs of disintegration e.g remove broken windows quickly, police should use zero tolerance and clamp down on minor crimes to avoid deterioration

Also, focus on socialisation, nuclear family and strong communities.

Take note in each paragrapher

·  Read the attached sheets on left and right realism. Design one quiz question for each of the focus points (see sheet – there are 3 focus points for left realism and 3 focus points for right realism so you will come up with 6 quiz questions in total).

·  Once you have read the sheets on left and right realism (and designed your 6 questions)

Why did Left Realists argue that a new approach was needed?

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