Karl Marx
The Foundation of Critical Criminology
Social Context
Capitalism emerges:
1. The Industrial Revolution
2. The development of overseas markets and products
Capitalist Effects:
 Overcrowding
 Underpaid/overworked
 Unemployment as machines replace people
 Harsh living conditions (urban mass)
 Capitalists: workers are part of the machine
Karl Marx (1818 – 1883)
German philosopher,
economist revolutionary
Most influential theorist
Macro level critique
(theoretical scope)
Not focused on crime in
Crime is merely a part of a
broad social system
Material conditions…
Intellectual context
Enlightenment Influence
Traveled across Europe
Begins with Hegel and notion of society (ideas)
Society evolves ‘naturally’ from tribal to rational
Breaks from Hegel
 People MUST be able to realize their potential
 Focus on material reality
 The culmination of a classless society
 People act in their own interests
If you don’t, its because needs are hidden from
Outlook shaped by material conditions
Consensus Model
Enlightenment ideals assumed:
 Homogeneity
 Laws and Social control practices reflects the morals and
norms of the majority
 CJS operates to benefit majority of the population
 Change occurs: ‘evolution’
 Does not questions what is crime and why....
E.g. Social Contract
Conflict Model (Marx)
Law - in both its application and codification - is not
neutral; Law reflects the interests of powerful
segments of society and functions to benefit certain
populations at the expense of others.
 Pluralism: diverse society
 Definitions of deviance tied to dominant ideologies
morals and norms of the powerful
Change occurs:‘revolution’
Social institutions (including ‘crime’) are ordered by economy
Historical Materialism
Method of ‘doing history’ by looking at the ‘real’
conditions during particular periods
Veronica Foster
Economic conditions >> physical conditions
Historically specific modes of production
productive forces: labour power & means of
social and technical relations of production:
relations between classes of people and the objects
of their work.
Materialism: change economic and social relations
E.g. WW2 Factory Demands
The Superstructure
People are ordered by their
relationship to production
Proletariat: working class
only have labour
Bourgeois: own the means of
production (e.g. Trump)
Class conflict will lead to
Capitalist Mode of Production
 Economic system whereby the means of
production are privately owned by capitalists
who purchase labour power from those who
do not own or have access to the means of
production (proletariat)
Labour power is purchased for wages
Legal process:
Economic power = political power to control or
create laws
Capitalist Mode of Production
Need for capital to realize profit through the
sale of a product produced by a worker
Worker is paid less than the value that is
contributed to the value of the product or
Exploitive relationship between
Development – Social Process
Common Vested Interest in
Collective Political Action
Paternalistic Institution
-Disciplined workers
-Shift to Immigrant Labour
Capitalism: The Superstructure
Ways of thinking support material
Position of ruling class reflected in
Presented as natural or ‘common
False Consciousness
People have natural interests & if
they do not behave in these
interests, it is because they have
been deceived about their interests
Punishment & Production….
The rise of factory & prisons
The use of prisoners & slavery
• Docile Bodies (normal?)
• Class conciseness &
“You say you want a revolution...”
Conflict is inherent to class structure
Revolt is inevitable...
Eventually the oppressed will become
conscious of their exploitation
Socialism without exploitation....
Social control and legislation focused
on quelling uprisings & not
interested in addressing concerns...
Shift from enlightenment’s belief that the
state was ‘naturally neutral’