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Left Realism Theory Analysis

Roots of the left realism theory

Left realist theory originated from critical criminology in reaction against the perception that, left failed to have a practical concern in day-to-day crime. It was argued that this failure left-right realist with the monopoly of political agenda concerning the law. According to this realism, crime affects the working class of people in a disproportionate way and that relative deprivation is the root cause of all crimes.

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Crime according to this theory should be controlled in a democratic way even though this should go along with preventative as well as policing measures. the theoretical tenet of left realism suggests that the subject matter of criminology is made of the offender, the victim, and the state although today the society is also considered to be part of that basic triangle that explains the relations in criminology. Under the theoretical approach, man is believed to be the creator of his nature, and therefore he is responsible for his actions. (Lawson, 1999 pp 32-37)

The political opinion of the left realism on the other hand views crime as a problem to working-class people because they suffer disproportionately in form of personal crimes like assault, burglary, robbery, and rape. This tenet suggests that there should be a populist approach in dealing with a crime so as to limit the ‘right’ from monopolizing the crime problem. Practical interventions in issues of law and maintenance of order should be made through theorizing and achieving more cooperation between the public and the police. This is done by creating room for democracy in the police local control.

How it evolved

Left realism originated from the United Kingdom through the work of Young and Lea who were representing academics like Roger Matthews and Richard Kinsey. This group was reacting to the challenge posed by Ian Taylor in matters to do with the law where the left was being challenged to take crime seriously. They designed three policies of left realism theory namely: Demarginalisation under which realists advocated for alternative measures to prison such as community service, widespread release from prison, and schemes of victim restitution the call is on the institutions controlling crime to epitomize justice.

The other policy was on the pre-emptive Deterrence which advocated the communities to organize in pre-empting crime and therefore stop dismissing public precautions that are against crime as being distractions from real concerns. The last policy that was set out by the two was the minimal use of prison where prisons should only be used in extreme cases where the community is in danger. Prison life should be as normal as possible to avoid producing hardened criminals. (Booth, 1991 pp 44-45)

Current social implication

Young says that for this theory, the social survey reflects the demand as well as satisfaction for consumers and therefore plays the role of a democratic instrument. Victimization research conducted nationally can be used to calculate the rate of average risk assuming there are no variations in crime from one area to another. Such a study views any fear of crime by people as irrational and illustrates that private problems are distributed publicly even though the individual members are ignorant about it. For example, maps drawn for areas with bad housing, poor nutrition, and high mortality rates for infants would coincide.

These areas would also be the ones with high victimization of crime with the social problems arising to those people who are vulnerable due to their position in terms of social structure which implies that if a person has the least power in the society he suffers most from the crime. (Booth, 1991 pp 43).

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Booth k. (1991): utopian realism in theory and practice: Royal institute of international pp. 43-45.

Lawson t. (1999): Economic as realist social theory: J Rosenberg pp. 32-37.

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