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Conflict Theory (From Criminology, Seventh Edition, P 254-284, 2000, Larry J. Siegel, -- See NCJ-185178)

NCJ Number
Larry J. Siegel Ph.D.
Date Published
31 pages
Social conflict theories view crime as a function of the conflict that exists in society and are based on the works of Marx as interpreted by Bonger, Dahrendorf, and Vold.
Social conflict theorists suggest that crime in any society is caused by class conflict and that laws are created by those in power to protect their rights and interests. All criminal acts have political undertones, and Quinney has called this concept the "social reality of crime." Research efforts to validate the conflict approach, however, have not produced significant findings. One of conflict theory's most important premises is that the justice system is biased and designed to protect the wealthy, but research has not been unanimous in supporting this point. Marxist criminology views the competitive nature of the capitalist system as a major cause of crime. The poor commit crimes because of their frustration, anger, and need, while the wealthy engage in illegal acts because they are used to competition and because they must do so to keep their positions in society. Research on Marxist theory focuses on how the justice system was designed and how it operates to further class interests. Both Marxist and conflict criminology theories have been heavily criticized by consensus criminologists. During the 1990's, new forms of conflict theory have emerged. Feminist writers draw attention to the influence of patriarchal society on crime; left realism takes a centrist position on crime by showing its rational, destructive nature; peacemaking criminology calls for humanism in criminology; and constructionism looks at the symbolic meaning of law and culture. 145 notes, 3 tables, 4 figure, and 6 photographs


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