Causes of Crimes and Law Implementation According to the Conflict Theories

Discussion question

According to conflict theorists, how do laws get implemented and, what is the main course of crime?


Conflict theories emphasize the social, political, and material disparities in all social groups. Conflict theorists suggest that crime in any society is caused by conflicts between different groups of people, mostly by those entrusted with the power to protect the rest of the society: interests and rights alike.

The Main Causes of Crime

Most criminal activities are, in a way or the other, intertwined with politics. According to Quinney, this concept is called the “social reality of crime.” One of the most vital concepts in conflict theory is that justice systems are out rightly biased in favor of the wealthy in any given society (Siegel, 2000). However, there is a loophole; findings by the conflict theorists have not been unanimous. Marxist criminology looks at the competitive nature of capitalism as the key cause of crime. This system states that the less fortunate commit crimes due to frustrations, need, and antipathy towards the leaders. The wealthy, on the other hand, do so because they are atavistic to competition and, they still fight to keep the bags and maintain their ranks in the societal order. These two theories were heavily criticized by other criminologists and other versions of the conflict theories that emerged in the 1990s (Bystrova & Gottschalk, 2015)

How Laws Are Implemented

According to Michel Foucault, institutions and lack of free will control individuals in contemporary society. These institutions are governed by people who are influential and have high rankings in society. It has become common knowledge that people in the lower social brackets are disadvantaged, not only in the competition for resources and power but also in the realms of justice. The wealthy bend rules and get away with lesser consequences than the poor. According to researchers, claims that nobody is above the law are disputable (Williams III & McShane, 2010).


The inequality in society causes polarity towards various groups. Research on the Marxist theory shows how the justice system was crafted and how it runs to meet class interests. Feminist books and articles have brought to the attention the destructive essence of the conflict and Marxist theories.




Bystrova, E. G., & Gottschalk, P. (2015). Social Conflict Theory and White-collar Criminals: Why does the ruling class punish their own?

Larry J. Siegel Ph.D. (2000) Conflict Theory (From Criminology, Seventh Edition).

Williams III, F. P., & McShane, M. D. (2010). Criminology theory: Selected classic readings. Routledge.

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