Marxist Criminology

Authored by: Rick Matthews

Routledge Handbook of Critical Criminology

Print publication date:  October  2011
Online publication date:  October  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415779678
eBook ISBN: 9780203864326
Adobe ISBN: 9781135192808

10.4324/9780203864326.ch6

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Abstract

Marxist criminologists take a structural approach to the study of crime, which is quite different from most mainstream criminologists, who tend to focus on individuals (e.g. variants of control theory, rational choice theory, and psychological theories of crime). Marxist criminologists argue that crimes committed by individuals or organizations cannot be understood without analyzing the context of the society in which they occur, which often puts them at odds with those working in other theoretical traditions. Because Marxian explanations of crime focus on economic structures that are either taken for granted, or assumed to be inherently good, non-academics unfamiliar with Marxian theory often dismiss them outright. The fact notwithstanding that many sociological and liberal-leaning criminological theories agree with Marxists (at least in part) by taking into account the role of economic structures in their attempts to explain crime, Marxist criminology has never gotten a strong foothold in the broad field of criminology, or in the realm of public policy.

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