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New Right explanations of crime and deviance

Updated on March 8, 2017

AO1 - Knowledge

Consensus: Society is based on common laws and values that everyone shares. The law rules society and those who break the law deserve punishment as they are behaving immorally. The New Right agrees with Functionalists such as Durkheim, that cultural deprivation and a lack of consensus can lead to crime. People who lack core values and commitment to society might be more likely to commit crime.

The inherent nature of mankind: Humans are naturally selfish, but people are aware of laws and morality, and as long as the law is respected society can operate. Without laws people would fall into a state of anomie. People need guidance and control in their lives. The, “swinging 60’s” has been deemed as being responsible for destroying a safe and secure world, whereby people lost control of their lives and people became more selfish (and therefore could be more likely to commit crime).

AO3 - Evaluation

The New Right can be criticized because the theory ignores the crimes that are committed by the wealthy and powerful. Therefore the New Right would ignore white collar crime (Croall – Marxism) because they do not believe that they are affected by the welfare state because they are rich (and are therefore less likely to commit crime). However, research into white collar crime has found that it is a very extensive crime that usually goes unreported and unrecorded but can be very damaging in terms of money and resources lost/stolen. (-)

In blaming the victims of crime, the New Right draws attention away from the real causes of crime. Homeless people are not homeless due to moral reasons or a lack of morality, but usually it is due to social conditions they have encountered in their lifetime. It could be argued that cuts in welfare benefits can cause crime to increase because people do not receive the help they need and require. This would oppose the New Right view that generous welfare benefits can cause crime; the lack of welfare benefits could also have dire consequences for crime rates. (-)

AO1 - Knowledge

Rationality: People are rational in their choices and take actions (and are aware of their consequences). If people commit crime when the benefits outweigh the costs, then the costs should be increased. This means heavier punishment, greater policing and increasing chances of getting caught.

Role of the Government: The role of the Government is that people can conduct their business with minimum intervention. In the 1960’s measures were taken in USA and UK to alleviate poverty, and as a result crime rates soared. Increasing wealth seems to increase crime rates. The government therefore cannot eliminate the causes of crime, but can make the costs of crime higher than the benefits. Murray (1994) states that crime has increased due to the welfare state being too generous with benefits and this stops people trying to develop themselves and get better jobs. A culture of crime and dependency has emerged from one generation to the next; and this helps to develop the underclass. The, “nanny state” means that the state provides everything that people need, and maybe there is no need to work anymore? People can get by and even live off crime and benefits.

The importance of Community: Informal controls such as neighbourhoods and families can help restrain people from committing crime. The loss of community can lead to more opportunities for people to commit crime. “Families without fathers” refers to single parent families whereby the male father role model is absent. Young males have no role model and are therefore more likely to commit crime.

AO3 - Evaluation

The New Right is a holistic theory as it has connections with Radical Criminology and Right Realism. Therefore the New Right theory has many different influences and ideas integrated within it, which can help aid sociologists understanding of crime and deviance overall. It is useful that the New Right Theory integrates social, economic and political factors that can help contribute to why crime and deviance occur (+)

The New Right agrees with Functionalism about the idea of, “consensus.” Both theories agree that those who go against social consensus and social order are more likely to commit crime and they should be punished for doing so. Those people who are deviant and go against social norms and values are also more likely to commit crime (+)

AO1 - Knowledge


People are free to act and do as they wish. This includes whether someone becomes rich or poor, engages in moral or immoral behaviour, and takes part in crime or not. As long as others as not harmed, such activities that people choose to do are quite acceptable. For example, “victimless crimes” such as drug use should be decriminalized and should not be viewed as criminal. The Government is the main perpetrator of crime, as they pass laws which constrain individual freedom.

Individual responsibility:

The, “Statist” approach says that when a criminal commits a crime, it is not their fault but the states or the systems fault due to providing poor housing, poor education, racism, patriarchy etc. These social forces lead people to commit crime. However, the Right Libertarians reject this idea, and say that it is the individual’s responsibility to not commit crime. Many poor people with little education do not commit crime, so this explanation does not make much sense in the long run. Victims of crime should be compensated for the trauma they have gone through, and the criminal who committed the original act should compensate their victim.

AO3 - Evaluation

The New Right would agree with Neo Marxists such as Young about the element of, “free will” when committing crime. Both theories agree that humans have rational free will and choice and decide to commit crime; they are not controlled by society. Therefore people who commit crime have made the decision to commit crime and therefore must be dealt with accordingly. (+)

The New Right emphasizes that a generous welfare state can actually increase crime rates. However, Sweden has a very generous welfare state system but the crime rate is extremely low. Therefore it cannot be correct for the New Right to assume that a generous welfare state system leads to the crime rate increasing. Other factors need to be considered too (-)


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