Type: History
Pages: 2 | Words: 307
Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Left realism criminology emerged in the early 1980’s as a perspective of crime and deviance. It originated from Britain and was partly attributed to the prevailing political climate and capitalist ideologies. The theory was generated by Jack Young and aimed to avoid the worst excesses of the right realists and left idealists who included Marxists, neo-Marxists, and radical feminists’. Under the theoretical the left realism’s tenets, Young introduced a “˜square of crime’ with four main components, namely offender, victim, agencies of control like police and informal control agencies like members of society (Young, 1986). As such, offenders should not be absolved of their actions.

There is also the political tenet which entails practical interventions into law and order issues. From a realist point of view, cocntrilling crimes involves intervention of every part of the crime square: at the level of factors that give rise to a putative offender (like structural unemployment), the formal system (ineffective policing), the informal system (a lack of public mobilization), and the victim (inadequate target hardening) (Young 1986: 41). At its core, left realism is seeking realistic strategies that will have a quantifiable impact upon crime within communities. Left realism differs from other critical theories in that it rejected post-Marxist theories that characterized crimes as revolutionary endeavor. Lea and Young (1984) viewed crime as the expression of capitalist values but through non-conventional means such as robbery, assault, and other illegitimate avenues.

Moreover, left realism differs with feminist criminological theorists due to its one-dimensional focus and its failure to explain crimes that are traditionally seen as targeting women such as rape (Smart, 1989). Finally, left realism agrees with radical theorists that it is true that, “crime is a reaction to an unjust society” (Lea and Young, 1984, p.45) but, unlike radical criminologist, left realism believes that the criminal must be accused of engaging in criminal behavior.

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