Chapter 8
Social Conflict Theories:
Critical Criminology and Restorative Justice
Social Conflict Theory
Figure 8.1
The
Branches of
Social
Conflict
Theory
Conflict: Good or Bad?
• Bad when leads to destruction such as?????
• Good when leads to positive social
change?????
Marxist Thought
• Productive Forces and Productive Relations
• Communist Manifesto focused attention on economic
conditions of a capitalist system
• Productive forces:
• Include technology, energy sources, and material
resources
• Productive relations:
• Exist among people producing goods and services
Marxist Thought
• Productive Forces and Productive Relations
•
•
•
•
Bourgeoisie  capitalists
Proletariat  working labor
Lumpen proletariat  poor
Class denotes a position in relation to others
Marxist Thought
• Surplus Value
• Laboring class produce goods that exceed wages in
value
• Excess value goes into the hands of capitalists
• Marx suggested workers would emerge into a socialist
state and own the means of production
Marxist Thought
Figure 8.3 Surplus Value
Developing a Conflict Based
Theory of Crime
• The Contribution of Bonger
• Upper class will commit if:
• They sense an opportunity of make financial gain
• Their lack of moral sense enables them to violate
social rules
• Crime and poverty are associated with unequal
distribution of wealth
Developing a Conflict Based
Theory of Crime
• The Contribution of Vold
• Adapted conflict theory to criminology
• Laws are created by politically oriented groups
• Laws will be created to hamper and curb the interests
of some opposition group
• Criminal acts are a consequence of forces struggling to
control society (conflict)
Social Conflict Theory
• Conflict theory tries to explain crime within
economic & social contexts and to express
connections between social class, crime,
and social control
• Relationship to crime began in the 1960s
• Chambliss & Seidman suggests the justice system
protects the rich and powerful
Critical Criminology
• Origins of Critical Conflict Theory
• In 1980s left realism emerged which influenced
peacemaking criminology
• Critical conflict criminologists are concerned with the
recent conservative agendas of cutting social programs
and increased military spending
Critical Criminology
• Fundamentals of Critical Criminology
• Crime is a function of the capitalist mode of production
• The poor (proletariat) engage in street crimes, whereas
the wealthy (bourgeoisie) are involved in acts not
defined as crimes (racism, sexism, profiteering)
• The rich are insulated from street crimes
• The poor are controlled through incarceration, whereas
the middle class is diverted from caring by the upper
classes creating a public fear of the lower classes
Critical Criminology
• Globalization
• Criminals are products of society and economic
systems
• Critical criminologists are wary of globalization and
capitalization trends
Critical Criminology
• Research on Critical Criminology
• Marxists suggest that traditional research is designed to
unmask the weak and powerless
• Critical research tends to be historical and analytical,
not qualitative and empirical
• Research involves both macro- and micro-level issues
Contemporary Forms of Social
Conflict Theory
• Left Realism
• Lea & Young 
• The poor are doubly abused by capitalists and by
members of their own class
• Relative Deprivation equals discontent  discontent
plus lack of political solution  crime
• Taylor 
• The world is currently in the midst of multiple crisis
• Job creation, social inequality, social fear, political
incompetence and failure, gender conflict, and family and
parenting issues
Contemporary Forms of Social
Conflict Theory
• Critical Feminist Theory
• Critical feminists view gender inequality as stemming
from the unequal power of men and women in a
capitalist society
• Patriarchal (male dominated) systems devalue the work
of women
• The exploitation of women produces far more surplus
value for capitalists than it does for men
Contemporary Forms of Social
Conflict Theory
• Patriarchy and Crime
• Critical feminists link criminal behavior patterns to
gender conflict created by economic and social
struggles
• Double marginality explains why women commit less
crime than men
• Crime is the vehicle for men to “do gender”
Contemporary Forms of Social
Conflict Theory
• Exploitation and Criminality
• Sexual victimization of females is a function of male
socialization
• Exploitation triggers the onset of female delinquency
such as running away to avoid abuse
• Some critics charge feminist scholars have ignored the
interests of women of color and lesbians
Contemporary Forms of Social
Conflict Theory
• Power Control Theory
• Hagen 
• Crime and delinquency are a function of
• 1) class position
• 2) family functions
• Fathers assume the role of breadwinners, while mothers
have menial jobs and are expected to control the
behavior of daughters
• Dissatisfied girls seek “role exit behaviors”
• Examples  running away or suicide
• In “egalitarian families” both the husband and wife
share similar positions of power
Contemporary Forms of Social
Conflict Theory
• Postmodern Theory
• Semiotics refers to the use of language elements as
signs or symbols beyond literal meaning
• Deconstructionists analyze communication and
language in legal codes to determine whether they
contribute to institutionalized racism or sexism
• Postmodernists contend value-laden language can
promote inequalities
Contemporary Forms of Social
Conflict Theory
• Peacemaking Criminology
• Main purpose of criminology is to promote a peaceful
society
• Draws inspiration from religious and philosophical
teachings
• Punishment encourages criminality rather than
deterring it (Tifft & Sullivan)
• Try to find humanist solutions (mediation and conflict
resolution) to crime and other social problems
Public Policy Implications of
Social Conflict Theory
• The Concept of Restorative Justice
• Contends that society needs to hold offenders
accountable to put right their harms
• Crime is an offense against human relationships
• Victims and the community are central to justice
processes
• The first priority is to restore the community
• The offender has a personal responsibility to victims
and to the community for crimes committed
• The offender will develop improved competency
and understanding as a result of the restorative
experience
Public Policy Implications of
Social Conflict Theory
• Developing Restoration
• The offender is asked to recognize and accept
responsibility of their criminal actions
• Commitment to material restitution and symbolic
reparation (apology)
• Determination of community support an assistance for
both the victim and offender
• The intended result is to repair injuries suffered by the
victim and the community while reintegrating the
offender
Public Policy Implications of
Social Conflict Theory
• The Challenge of Restorative Justice
• Advocates warn of the uneven exercise of state power
• What is considered “restorative” in one subculture may
be considered insulting or damaging in another
• Balancing the needs of offenders with those of the
victims
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