In their publication The New Criminology the neo-Marxists Taylor, Walton and Young said that they agreed with Marxism on three key issues in relation to crime.
- They agree that the economy is the most important part of society, and it is from this that crime is born.
- They believe that the capitalism is to blame for crime as it causes an inequality in society which is the root of crime
- They agree that if we are to eradicate crime we must first see a transformation of society away from capitalism.
However, in many ways Taylor, Walton and Young’s views differ from conventional Marxist approaches, hence why it is the neo-Marxist perspective.
One way in which it differs from Marxism is that it believes the labelling theory proposed by interactionists has some truth in it. Neo-Marxists say that the ruling class label certain members of the working class in order to gain benefits themselves, this is called a “fully social theory of deviance”. The work of neo-Marxists in the area of labelling was epitomised by Stuart Hall’s ‘Policing the crisis’ whereby he looked at moral panic over ‘mugging’ in the 1970’s in Britain. During the 1970’s several newspapers repeatedly reported incidents of mugging; Hall said this moral panic was built upon the idea of collective fear of ‘an enemy within’. He said this was because in the 1970’s Britain experienced an economic decline – a ‘crisis of capitalism’ – and the government needed someone for everyone to blame and rally against, uniting the people and allowing us to forget about the economic issues. By making the Black mugger someone to fear, it solidified a fractured UK society around the state. Neo-Marxists say that this is just one of many examples of how social background (in this instance you’re ethnicity and class) can result in you being deviant, but it is only because of the labelling from the ruling class that you become a deviant.
So neo-Marxists say the ruling-class used labelling of certain people to sustain their control over the working class; in this case it was used to solve a “crisis of capitalism”.