Why Are ‘Working Class’ Cultures Linked to Crime and What Are the Issues with This Viewpoint?

Topics: Working class, Criminology, Sociology Pages: 5 (1953 words) Published: November 29, 2011
There are many reasons that propose why working class cultures are linked to crime, which are viewed in various ways by many theorists. Statistics suggest that working class people commit the most crime and are most likely to be victims of crimes. In the 1980’s there was a general concern of the crime rates, and out of this concern, theories of realist criminology developed. Here, there are two opposing theorists of realist criminology. One of these being Right Realism, and the other of this being Left Realism. Right Realists was originated in the USA, and emphasised zero tolerance, the main supporter of this was James Q Wilson. He was largely influenced by theorist Etzioni. Etzioni argued that attitudes of numbers of local communities normally control the behaviour of those who inhibit the community. Therefore, informal methods of social control kept crime and deviance in check; however, those communities where this method was broken down led to crime and deviance to get out of control. Wilson argued that in any community there are members who engage in incivilities, minor acts such as vandalism and littering. Informal methods are often used to prevent high crime, such as looks, comments etc. Wilson believed that the police had a crucial role to play, to concentrate on order maintenance and arrest those who commit incivilities, which will highlight what was seen as acceptable behaviour and eventually informal methods of control would become more effective. He believes that it is impossible to identify the causes of crime, but is considered by the inadequate socialization of the children by the parents who influence criminal behaviour. He also points out those families of less intelligence don’t socialize children properly into society’s norms and values. In criticism, Platt argues that Right Realists concentrates too much on working class crime and not on middle class crime. He also believes that they fail to identify causes of crime instead of blaming it on inadequate socialization, pushing the blame away from the government and economic system. Traditional Marxists concentrates on three concepts. Firstly, that the ruling class oppress the working class. Secondly, that the ruling class have power to make laws and enforce them, and lastly, that the majority of the crime is committed by the ruling class, but is masked because the onus is on the working class crime. However, Left Realists move away from these ideas and start from the position that the working class do actually commit high crime. They are critical of traditional Marxists for being too idealistic and concentrating too much on ruling class crime. Left Realists believe that working class crime does exist and it is important to study it. The major supporter of this is Jock Young. Jock Young believes youths feel frustrated at the prospect of unemployment or no prospects at all etc, especially as they are socialized into capitalist’s values. They also feel deprived compared to other groups who have media success and stress bourgeoisie values. At the bottom of the heap, working class people solve their problems by turning to crime. Certain groups on the margins of society have no power to alter their situations. In the past trade unions fought for the right of working class man, however today, they no longer are powerful. And those who feel they haven’t got representation or acceptance often use crime as actions of politics to express their frustration. New left realists acknowledged that although white collar crime was higher than suggested in the official statistics, the major crimes however which worried people most was those committed by working class youth males, both black and white. Young and Gilroy carried out two studies, one in Islington and the other in Merseyside, to find that majority of crime committed was by the working class youths, who would commit these crimes on working class people. Members in both areas displayed fear and concern. However,...
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