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Flashcards in Realist Theories of Crime Deck (37)
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Why do right realists see crime as a problem?

It destroys communities, undermines social cohesion and threatens society's work ethic.


Why do right realists criticise other views on crime?

Right realists: Reject idea put forward by Marxists and others that structural or economic factors such as poverty and inequality are the cause of crime.

Against the Marxist view: the old tend to be poor yet they have a very low crime rate.


Briefly outline the three factors that cause crime, according to right realists.

Biological differences:
- Biological differences between individuals makes some people innately more strongly predisposed to commit crime than others.
- E.g personality traits such as aggressiveness, risk tasking, extroversion increase risk of offending.

Socialisation and the underclass:
- Effective socialisation decreases the risk since it involves learning self-control and internalising moral values of right and wrong.
- Right realists: nuclear family is best for this.

Rational choice theory:
- Assumes individuals have free will and the power of reason.
- Clarke: decision to commit crime is a choice based on a rational calculation of the likely consequences.


Give three criticisms of the right realist explanation of the cause of crime.

- Ignores wider structural causes such as poverty.

- Overstates offenders' rationality and how far they make cost-benefit calculations before committing a crime (doesn't explain all types of crime)

- Over-emphasises biological factors: according to Lilly et al, IQ differences account for less than 3% of differences in offending.


What is the main focus of the right realist view on how to tackle crime?

Control, containment and punishment of offenders rather than eliminating the underlying causes of offending or rehabilitating them.


According to right realists, what should crime prevention aim to do?

Reduce the rewards and increase the costs of crime to the offender for example by 'target hardening', greater use of prison and ensuring punishments follow soon after the offence to maximise their deterrent effect.


According to Wilson and Kelling, how should crime be prevented in neighbourhoods?

- Essential to maintain orderly character of neighbourhoods to prevent crime taking hold.
- Any sign of deterioration e.g graffiti must be dealt with immediately.
- 'Zero tolerance' policy towards undesirable behaviour such as prostitution, begging and drunkenness.


According to Young, why was the supposed 'success' of zero tolerance actually a myth?

Crime rate in New York had been falling since 1985 - 9 years before zero tolerance - and in other US cities that didn't have such policies.


Briefly outline four criticisms of zero tolerance.

- Preoccupied with petty street crime and ignores corporate crime, which is more costly and harmful.
- Gives the police free rein to discriminate against minorities, youth, the homeless etc.
- Over-emphasises control of disorder, rather than tackling the causes of neighbourhood decline such as lack of investment.
- Zero tolerance and target hardening just lead to displacement of crime to other areas.


In what way is left realism like Marxism?

They see society as an unequal capitalist one.


Briefly explain how left realism differs from Marxism.

Left realists are reformist rather than revolutionary socialists: they believe in gradual change rather than the violent overthrow of capitalism as the way to achieve greater equality.


Briefly outline how left realists see the following perspectives as not taking crime seriously:
- Marxism
- Neo-Marxism
- Labelling theory

Marxists: concentrate on crimes of the power e.g corporate crime. LR agree this is important but argue it neglects w/c crime and its effects.

Neo-Marxism: romanticise w/c criminals as 'Robin Hoods', stealing from rich as an act of political resistance to capitalism. LR point out w/c criminals mostly victimise other w/c people, not the rich.

Labelling theory: see w/c criminals as victims of discriminatory labelling by social control agents. LR argue this approach neglects the real victims - w/c people who suffer at the hands of criminals.


Briefly explain what Young means by the aetiological crisis.

From the 1950s on, there was a real increase in crime, especially w/c crime. Young argues this lead to a aetiological crisis - a crisis in explanation - for theories of crime.

For example, critical criminology + labelling theory deny the increase was real and was actually result of increased reporting. Stats were social construction, not reality.

LR: increase was too great to be explained this way.


What do local victim surveys show about the scale of crime?

- Even greater than that shown by official statistics.
- Disadvantaged groups have a greater risk of becoming victims, especially of burglary, street crime and violence.
- For example, unskilled workers are twice as likely to be burgled as other people.


What is the impact of a greater fear of crime?

Fear of attack may prevent women from going out at night.


Why might victims be reluctant to report crime?

Police are often reluctant to deal with crimes such as domestic violence, rape or racist attacks.


Briefly outline Lea and Young's three related causes of crime.

- Relative deprivation:

- Subculture:

- Marginalisation:


According to Young, what are the features of late modern society?

Instability, insecurity and exclusion which make the problem of crime worse.


Why does Young see the 1950s and 1960s as a 'Golden Age'?

Period of stability, security and exclusion, with full employment, a fairly comprehensive welfare state, low divorce rates and relatively strong communities. There was general consensus about right and wrong, and lower crime rates.


Briefly outline the changes to society since the 1970s.

- Insecurity and exclusion have increased.
- Deindustrialisation + loss of unskilled jobs has increased unemployment.
- Most jobs low paid/short term


Why has there been an increase in the sense of relative deprivation in society?

- Greater inequality between rich and poor and spread of free market values encouraging individualism.
- Growing contrast between cultural inclusion and economic exclusion


Briefly outline the contrast between cultural inclusion and economic exclusion identified by Young.

- Media-saturated late modern society promotes cultural inclusion.
- Greater emphasis on leisure, personal consumption and immediate gratification.
- Despite ideology of meritocracy, the poor are denied opportunities to gain the 'glittering prizes of a wealthy society.'


In what way is Young's view of cultural inclusion and economic exclusion similar to Merton's notion of anomie?

Society creates crime by setting cultural goals, while denying people the opportunity to achieve the, by legitimate means.


Give an example to illustrate why there is a great trend towards relative deprivation in late modernity.

Widespread resentment at the undeservedly high rewards that some receive, whether top-flight footballers or 'fat-cat' bankers.


Briefly outline how the amount and types of crime are changing in late modern society.

Crime is found increasingly throughout the social structure. Also nastier, with an increase in 'hate crimes' - often the result of relative deprivation downwards e.g racist attacks against asylum seekers.


Briefly outline the changes to the reactions to crime in late modern society.

- LMS: more diverse + there's less public consensus on right + wrong, so boundary between acceptable + unacceptable behaviour becomes blurred.
- Informal controls become less effective as families + communities disintegrate.
- Makes public more intolerant + leads to demands for harsher penalties + increased criminalisation of unacceptable behaviour.


Why is a fall in the crime a problem for realist theories?

Suggests crime is not longer the major threat they'd originally claimed.


In what sense has the government created a new 'crime' wave?

Introduction of ASBOs and IPNAs to control behaviour.
While the crime rate is going down, governments have replaced a new 'crime' wave or anti-social behaviour wave to replace it.


Why do left realist criticise the military style of policing?

- Policing must be made accountable to local communities + deal with local concerns.
- Routine beat patrols: ineffective
- Search tactics: conflict


What do left realists propose as an alternative form of policing?

Police/local communities relationship needs improvement: spend more time investigating crime, change priorities + involve public in making policing policy.