Left Realism Theory

Left Realism is a theory that attempts to explain the relationship between crime and social classes as well as how it can be combated socially. It explains crime in three ways; marginalization, relative deprivation and formation of subcultures. To understand the theory well, we must examine its source, development as well as its social implications in the society.

Left Realism theory started with the work of authors Jock Young and John Lea in their work, What is To Be Done About Law and Order?, 1984. They argue that poverty is not the source of crime alone. People feel deprived comparative to similar societal groups. These deprived groups take certain lifestyles for coping with the situation, which results in formation of the subculture that may promote criminal conduct. These groups feel marginalized both politically and economically.

It has evolved in three concepts. De-marginalization where there are the substitute to jail sentences such as community service. The community can also be involved to discourage crime through community watch programs in what is called Preemptive Deterrence. Finally, prison is used to the extreme criminal cases in the community.

It is no doubt that Left Realism has shaped social policy than many other criminal theories. The public has been employed to perform routine police responsibilities, officers have more time to investigate crime and follow up. However, Left Realism has not wholly solved the crime problem. This is due to weakening of community spirit and moral disagreement making crime more widespread.

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