Critical Criminology is an extension of Marxist theory that goes beyond the examination of the effects of capitalism on crime. It takes a critical stance against mainstream criminology. Critical criminology is similar to Marxist theory in the belief that crime and delinquency are defined by those who have the power in society.
Is American society too diverse to ever agree on a peacemaking perspective? Explain your response. Feel free to draw examples from previous class readings and the chapter to explain your answer.
Critical criminology looks at criminal justice issues with an awareness of how class and inequality have given rise to crime. This perspective includes an awareness of how social issues such as poverty, economic oppression, class, gender, and race affect the perpetration and punishment of crime. The field also regards crime and justice as socially determined--that is, a product of their society.
The social constructivist conception of delinquency and crime, which is related to the ideas of critical criminology, states that deviance is based on social constructs. That is, acts are not inherently deviant but are determined to be deviant by a majority of the society. Therefore, the definitions of deviance and criminal behavior, as well as the definition of justice, have a relative component.
Whether or not you agree that there is a socially constructed element of justice in the United States depends on your own views and your readings. Some argue that justice is socially constructed; for example, according to the NAACP, African Americans have six times the rate of incarcerations that white people do. Many critics of the criminal justice system argue that this high rate of incarceration of African Americans, particularly African-American men, comes from unfairness, racism, and injustice built into the system. There is little doubt that people of different backgrounds are treated differently in our legal system and that it is difficult to agree on a definition of justice in a diverse society. However, if our society has more diversity represented within the justice system, including judges, defense lawyers, and district attorneys, the justice system might begin to include more diverse perspectives and might be better able to agree on the definition of deviance and the role of societal factors in creating deviance.