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Flashcards in Realist Theories Deck (12):


The underclass are the genuine criminals of society. Reliance on the welfare state results in people committing crime, as it allows young males to leave their wives, believing they are not needed any longer, and so the nuclear family is broken up. This leads to inadequate socialisation as boys have no male role model, amongst poorer families so they are more likely to offend.


Wilson and Hernstein

Crime is a product of social and biological factors, e.g testosterone and inadequate socialisation. Therefore, males and working class teens commit crime.



Rational Choice Theory. An individual commits a crime by weighing up the benefits against the costs. So working classes commit crime as they don't have as much to lose, and have more to gain, for example through burglary.


How are Left Realists similar to Right Realists?

They believe prison statistics accurately portray the typical criminal as lower social class and previous sociologists have been too theoretical- have come up with no solution to the problem.


How do Left Realists disagree with Right Realists?

Left Realists blame society for causing crime rather than Right Realists who blame the individual.


Lea and Young

Point out that relative deprivation has led to an increase in crime- being relatively poorer than those around creates resentment that can lead to crime. They then applied Cloward and Ohlin's functionalist subcultural theory- Marginalised groups develop deviant subcultures. Lea and Young agree that the working class commit more crime, but focus more on how that crime tends to case more wc marginalisation and fear. Society needs to intervene and tackle inequality.


Kinsey, Lea and Young

Pointed out that the police have become ineffective as they alienate themselves from the public. The lower classes are the most knowledgeable about the crimes that take place in society, so it is most important that the relationship between them is improved. This shows why the criminal justice system is so unable to solve crimes in society.


Wilson and Hernstein Evaluation

This theory ignores the presence of middle class and corporate crime (Snider).


Clarke Evaluation

Unlike previous sociologists, Right Realists acknowledge the position of victims and attempt to control crime.


Murray Evaluation

There is no evidence that single-mothers are unable to raise non-criminal children. Furthermore, the idea that black groups commit more crime could instead be a reflection of how police treat them.


Lea and Young Evaluation

Theory fails to explain why many people living in economically deprived areas do not turn to crime.
Also, it assumes that relative deprivation applies to the lower class groups, when surely even the middle classes would feel relatively deprived to those wealthier than them.


Kinsey, Lea and Young Evaluation

Many consider methods such as community policing to be ineffective and merely create officers that are not taken seriously rather than repairing the relationship between the police and public.