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A2 Unit 2 - Crime and Deviance

8) Left Realism

Jock Young, a left realist, said we need to be tough on crime, especially crimes committed by the working class against the working class.

In their publication ‘What is to be about Law and Order’ (1984) Lea and Young said that crime is rooted in social conditions and crime is closely connected to deprivation. However, this does not mean left realists see crime as a result of unemployment directly; this is because they observed crime rates in the 1930s when unemployment was very high and found them to be lower that crime rates in the 1980s when unemployment was low.

Relative deprivation is when a group feels deprived in comparison to other similar groups, or when its expectations are not met. Young highlighted how increased media influence could lead to increased crime rates, as it leads to higher expectations so those in deprivation feel increased effects of relative deprivation. It is when people feel deprived in comparison to those around them (including those in the media) that they commit crimes.

An example of this relative deprivation is that of the ex-mining towns. For these towns employment was never a problem as everyone worked down the mines. However as the mines have to closed jobs have been lost, and suddenly people feel relative deprivation because their standards of living aren’t as high as they had grown accustomed to in the past.

So, Young suggested that we should deal with crime by trying to decrease the levels of social deprivation. This could be through welfare, infrastructure improvements, the creation of jobs etc. All of this would help reduce the feeling of relative deprivation and therefore the levels of crime.

About Sam Cook

A blog set up to help A Level students revise Sociology

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