Although in recent decades, the conflict approach has taken many new directions, its early roots can be traced to the Marxist tradition. According to orthodox Marxism, a capitalist ruling class exploits and robs the masses, yet avoids punishments for its crimes. Individuals victimized by capitalist oppression are driven to commit acts in their struggle to survive that the ruling class brands as criminal. The most extreme of these capitalists spearhead organized crimes in the metropolis (Hinkle, 2004).
Other types of deviance yielded by organized crimes, alcoholism, drug abuse, family violence, sexual immorality, and prostitution, are products of the moral degeneration fostered by a social milieu founded on the unprincipled pursuit of profit and the subjugation of the poor, women, blacks, and other minorities. Mental and emotional problems also abound because people become estranged from one another and from themselves.
Such estrangement resides in the separation of people from the means whereby they derive their livelihood, from the basis of their existence (Hinkle, 2004). The contemporary Marxist approach to deviance is articulated by sociologist Richard Quinney. Quinney says that the American legal system reflects the interests and ideologies of the ruling capitalist class. Law makes illegal certain behavior that is offensive to the morality of the powerful and that threatens their privileges and property (Hinkle, 2004).
The United States is currently moving in the direction of new and revolutionary patterns including the third wave and megatrends. In this society, increasing numbers of workers find employment in the tertiary industry centering on the provision of services rather than the extraction of raw materials and the manufacture of goods. Simultaneously, new techniques permit the automation of many processes in the workplace with the introduction of computers and complex feedback regulation devices (Hinkle, 2004).
In striving to maintain itself against the internal contradictions eating away at its foundations, Quinney says that capitalism commits crimes of domination. These organized crimes include committed by corporations range from what the post-modernists call price fixing to pollution of the environment. But there are also crimes of government committed by the officials of the capitalist state, Watergate being a recent publicized instance (Hinkle, 2004).
In contrast, much of the criminal behavior of ordinary people in organized crimes, or predatory crime (burglary, robbery, drug dealing, and hustling of various sorts) is pursued out of the need to survive in a capitalist social order. A precondition to syndicated crimes, personal crime (murder, assault, and rape) is pursued by those who are already brutalized by the conditions of capitalism. And then there are crimes of resistance, in which workers engage in sloppy work and clandestine acts of sabotage against employers (Saney, 1996).