Radical Criminology Essay

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Radical Criminology

The supposed reasons for crime vary as much as crime itself. Even though an individual may have a very personal reason for committing a criminal act, there are underlying causes which get more to the point of crime. At least this is the assertion of most criminologists. Radical criminology posits that disparities in society are the main reasons for crime (Livesy, 2005). Why radical criminologists tend to believe that this is the truth and what remedies they have are the focuses of this paper.

Radical criminology has its roots in the Marxist tradition (Livesy, 2005) which basically says that there are two distinct parts to any society. The bourgeoisie is the ruling, capitalist class. The proletariat is the underclass which is controlled by the desires of the capitalists. Livesy (2005) states that;

"all social institutions (for example, work, family, education, legal systems and so forth) and specific agencies of social control (the police, mass media and the like) can be linked - either directly or indirectly - to the needs, purposes and basic interests of a Capitalist "ruling class."

This means that the ruling class has everything it needs to control a society, and that the underclass has nothing. The contention, then, is that people who are in the underclass have only limited ways in which they can assert themselves, and reap the benefits in a capitalistic society.

Assuming that everyone has the desire to rise above their station and engage in the freedom inherent in the ruling class, members of the underclass see the unfairness of their station and want to be included in the larger society. They can do this by becoming members of the ruling class which is all but impossible; they can become content with their station in life; or, the members of the underclass can choose a life of crime (Groves & Sampson, 1987). Of course,…

Sources Used in Documents:


Groves, W.B., & Sampson, R.J. (1987). Traditional contributions to radical criminology. Journal of Research in Crime Delinquency, 24(3), 181-214.

Livesy, C. (2005). Radical criminology: Theoretical origins. Retrieved from http://www.sociology.org.uk/devtrc3.pdf

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