Marx believed that the dominant feature of all societies was the mode of production (the way people develop and produce material goods)- This emphasis upon the economic arena led Marx to focus much of his attention on the relationship between the producers (workers) and those who owned the means of production. Alienation of the proletariat from the products of their labor is indicative of an unequal distribution of property and power in society. This unequal access to property and power lays the foundation for an inevitable class conflict that Marx believed to prevail throughout all of history. In every society, according to Marx, there exist two opposing groups: one wishing to preserve the status quo and the other attempting to modify existing relationships. The relationship between the elite and the state are views in two alternative ways by contemporary Marxist criminologists: Instrumental Marxism and Structural Marxism. Instrumental Marxism sees the state and criminal law as intricately linked to the bourgeoisie- the economic elite use the power of the state as an instrument for the maintenance of their own power. Structural Marxism sees the state as semi- autonomous from the power elite- while the state typically supports the power elite (therefore protecting the capitalist system), it does not always do so. Group Conflict Perspective: George Vold-Group Conflict Theory Vold viewed humans as group oriented and society as a collection of groups, each with its own interests. These groups form because members have common interests and needs that can be best met through collective action. Vold maintained that groups come into conflict with one another as the interests and purposes they serve begin to overlap and encroach. When this occurs, each group tends to defend itself. Vold stated that “conflict between groups tends to develop and intensify the loyalty of the group members to their respective groups.”
Chapter 9 Notes: Critical Criminology 03:30 Another element of Vold’s conflict theory pertains to the distribution of power- Who, for example, enacts laws and who enforces them? An interesting aspect of Vold’s theory is that he viewed crime and delinquency as minority group behavior. This represents an extension of his belief that human behavior is dominated by group behavior characterized by conflict. Vold cautioned that while his theory pertained to crime in general, it was most appropriate for explaining four kinds of crime: Crimes arising from political protest
Chapter 9 Notes: Critical Criminology 03:30
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