Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Conflict Theory of Crime

Conflict Theory
Many people assume that the law is based on the consent of citizens, that it treats citizens equally and that it serves the best interest of society. If we simply read the U.S.A., constitution and status, this assumption may ideal be justified? But focusing on the law on the books, as William Chambliss (1969) pointed out, may be misleading. The law in the books does indeed say that the authorities ought to be fair and just. But are they? To understand crime, Chambliss argue, we need to look at the law in action, at how legal authorities actually discharge their duty. After studying the law in action, Chambliss concluded that legal authorities are actually unfair and unjust, favouring the rich and powerful over the poor and weak.
Richard Quinney (1974) blamed the unjust law directly on the capitalist system. The state and the ruling class to secure the survival of the capitalist system use “Criminal law”, said Quinney. This involves the dominant class doing four things. First it defines as criminal those behaviours (robbery, murder, and the like) that threaten into interests. Second it hires law enforces to apply those definitions and protect its interests. Third, it exploits the subordinate class by paying low wages so that the resulting oppressive life conditions force the powerless to commit what those in power have defined as crimes. Fourth, it uses these criminal actions to spread and reinforce the popular view that the subordinate class is dangerous, in order to justify its concerns with making and enforcing the law. The upshot is the production and maintenance of a high level of crime in society (Quinney, 1975).


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