In 1980, left realism materialized in Britain as a reaction to law and order politics and to the noticeable emptiness in the radical left thinking on crime and crime control. Jock Young, a sociologist and criminologist had initiated the works about left realism. Left realism is a reaction that had emerged because of the Left’s failure to take sensible and realistic interest towards the crimes that happen everyday. In 1984, with the works of Lea and Young, left Realism was being set down in the United Kingdom (Hopkins Burke 2001:218).
Lea and Young were representatives of young academicians, sociologists and criminologists which includes John Bea, Roger Matthews and Jock Young. The group of Lea and Young was being challenged by the book published by Ian Taylor, also a sociologist. The book entitled Law and Order: Arguments for Socialism had touched topics about the how the left had taken crime. Critique of Left Realism on Orthodox (Conservative) and Radical Criminology
Left realism have critically assessed conservative criminology with the view that occurrence of crime is due to the lack of adequate socialization into the different deviant values. Socialization is not enough in the different classes of the society therefore most of the people tag criminals as being ‘born bad’. Moreover, criminals are viewed by others to have a personality which is defective. Conservative criminology view crime as a result of the anti-social expression of dissatisfaction or restlessness felt by the people who are considered “uncivilized”.
The State’s role pertaining to crime is to protect the citizens who abide the law from the citizens who commit crimes. The police are responsible in all sorts of confrontations which regards crimes committed by the criminals as well as to develop and solve the problems brought about by crime. On the other hand, the critique of left realism about radical criminology (left idealism) is that the occurrence of crime is due to the economic deprivation that is felt by people. Radical criminology is where left realism is most probably based.
Crimes are committed because people are economically deprived and that these people consider committing crime as a solution to their deprived life status in the society where capitalism is prevalent. Therefore, criminals do have this superior level of consciousness because committing crimes is their answer in the deprivation they experience in the capitalist society. Crime is also viewed by left realism as reaction from the under-privileged system or from the systematic degradation.
Sometimes, crime is committed due to the activities of the youth as a response to the culture they belong or if it is about a theft, it is part of the redistribution of income among the privileged and the underprivileged people of the society. Crime involves the emergence of alternative values from the criminals. The State’s role in the radical criminology is to protect the welfare of the rich and the powerful people even at the expense of the poor and powerless people. Moreover, the police have also roles of implementing policies which were made for the poor and powerless people.
For radical criminology, crime is considered to be a problem of the ruling class of the society and not as a problem of the society. Main Policies Lea and Young in their “What is to be Done About Law and Order? ” was able to explain the multi-causal approach used Left Realism. There are three factors that make up the multi-causal approach of the Left Realism. It was explained that there is no single factor that could stand out for deviance and crimes to be accounted. The three factors should be able to go hand in hand so that significance of the crime could be justified.
Fro example, deprivation is not the only factor that could account for the crime to be committed by the offender. Other factors that are also reasons for the crime to be committed should also be considered for the crime to be significant. Although relative deprivation could be a factor of burglary or theft but it could not fully explain the reason why some of the burglars are able to hurt or kill the victims. The three main policies for the definition of left realism for crime to be understood further are the subculture, relative deprivation and marginalization.