To conclude on the positivist agenda, whilst the lifestyle approach relates closely to the 'real world' in the sense that it is empirically grounded, it fails to acknowledge unconventional offences and 'hidden crime,' and neglects the unequal power relations between men and women. Whilst successfully switching the criminological focus to victims and highlighting the patterns of victimisation, the positivist approach fails to accurately portray the true causes of these patterns, so in fact, only represents a statistical methodology. A radical approach aims to penetrate the heart of the problem I. e. the 'real' explanation of these patterns.
Radical perspectives within victimological explanations contrast with positivist approaches, due to their refusal to acknowledge the positivists' 'individualised' approach. Indeed, more emphasis is placed on the need to look at the political, economic and social context of victims. Radical perspectives investigate how the role of the state and the way that society is organised contribute to our understandings of victimisation. 11 Radical perspectives are premised on the theory that patterns of victimisation are the product of structural inequalities (ignored by positivism), as opposed to the actions/attributes of individuals.
Therefore, this theory is so fundamental in amending and criticising the positivist approach. The state selectively labels some harms as criminal but ignores others and may even mystify others. This draws attention to the fact that the positivist approach favours the government and the state, whereas the fundamental nature of radical perspectives seeks to expose the states' role in the causes of victimisation, as opposed to blaming the victims.
This viewpoint may be deemed as being radical because it is politically contentious in the sense that it takes a more positive step to broaden the positivist agenda, so as to draw more attention to hidden victimisation and to expose crimes of the powerful. The left realist structuralist agenda seeks to uncover the explanations of 'hidden' victimisation within the context of domestic violence, child abuse and corporate crime. Domestic violence is explained by the presence of a patriarchal society whereby women are subordinate to men due to unequal power relations.
Men dominate women through social, economic, psychological and physical relations and prior to the legislation of 1991, marital rape was not deemed to be a crime. 13 Had it not been for the introduction of radical perspectives and their focus on structural explanations for victimisation (a patriarchal society), this law may not have been passed. With focus being made by radical perspectives to the structural inequalities within our society, marriage is now deemed to be a partnership of equals.
Consequently, by acknowledging the imbalance of power between genders in the structural context, patterns of victimisations have been more accurately identified and thus measures (legislation) have been introduced to reduce the levels of victimisation. The idea brought forward by left realists that women are socialised into accepting victim status I. e. that victimisation is a 'social process' and is a way of life for many women, suggests that merely looking at the attributes of victims (the methodology within positivism), is not adequate.
Again, with child abuse, looking at individual attributes is largely unsuccessful. This is because structurally, children are physically and economically powerless and invisible (due to their subordinate status in family relationships) and any individual character attributes are immaterial when considering the likeliness of their victimisation. Corporate crime can be defined as: 'Harm inflicted on consumers, workers and the general public resulting from corporate negligence, the quest for profits at any cost, and the wilful violations of health and safety and environmental laws.
'14 A well known example is that of the Bhopal disaster (1984) which resulted in 3000 immediate and 20,000 premature deaths, following the toxic chemical leak from its factory in Bhopal. This case illustrates the concept of the invisible victim, (in the form of corporate crime liability) and is an example of how the law has failed to adequately acknowledge this kind of crime. Indeed, attention was drawn in this case to the languishing criminal charges against Union Carbide for culpable homicide, which did not amount to murder.
The procedural difficulties in establishing guilt tend to hinder prosecutions of this kind. So whilst identifying another one of the 'hidden' crimes, case law suggests that difficulties may arise in any attempts to reduce the causes of this form of victimisation. The legal framework at present appears to give corporations wide powers while minimising forms of accountability. This lack of criminal liability can often lead to some company's compromising their safety regulations in the interests of profit.
This happened in the Herald of Free Enterprise sinking off Zeebrugge (1987), killing of 193 passengers and crew. The company encouraged the practice of not shutting the doors immediately in the interests of speed. The structural explanation offered by the radical perspective highlights the social construction of 'accidents' beyond human control and the 'ideology of disaster' and the consequent failure to recognise criminal contribution. By investigating into this 'hidden' crime, radical perspectives are exposing some of the real causes of victimisation by viewing victims as the product of structural arrangements I.
e. how society is organised. Invisible victims can also be found within the context of the police, war, the correctional system, state violence, commercial exploitation etc. In the Heyday in the 1970's, many radical criminologists viewed crime as a form of 'class conflict' and saw offenders as victims. This idea was rejected by radical left realists, who criticised the positivists' failure to take account of the victimisation process due to its rigid objective approach.
The neutral standpoint inherent to the positivist agenda was also rejected by radical perspectives who instead preferred to adopt a normative/political standpoint. Within the context of national crime surveys, left realists admitted that most victims are just as marginalised as offenders. However, realists argued that crime and victimisation are a real problem but not for everyone. It is this viewpoint which led them to focus upon the role of local victim surveys.
These surveys allowed patterns to emerge which conveyed the real effects in certain communities and the differential impacts (which were not easy to see with National Crime surveys). This allowed left realists to pay particular attention to the experience of victimisation on the working class, which could not be done as easily by using National Crime Surveys due to the fact that they are not representative of the distribution ('intra not inter' class phenomenon) Again, this illustrates why an advance on the positivist agenda was necessary in order to penetrate the core of the problem of victimisation.
The first British Crime Survey revealed that the 'national' average was likely to: be burgled once every 40 years, have the family car stolen one every 60 years, suffer an assault resulting in injury once every century, and to suffer a robbery once every five centuries. 16 These vague statistics have nothing to say about the realities of communities and individual's experiences of crime, and hence present a minimal attempt to accurately convey the patterns of victimisation.
More accurately, local victimisation surveys reveal that younger people are 13 times as likely to be assaulted as 45s, black people are twice as likely as others to be victims of assault, and women are half as likely as men to be assaulted. 17 To conclude, radical/structural explanations of victimisation move beyond positivistic explanations (e. g. victim 'proneness' 'culpability' and 'lifetsyle', and focus instead, on social characteristics such as age, class, gender and race and on the social system itself.
Radical perspectives acknowledge that if people are trapped into positions of powerlessness by the social structure, this needs to be taken into account in explaining the process of victimisation.
Bibliography: Goodey, J (2005) Victims and Victimology: Research, Policy and Practice, Longman Criminology. Walklate, S (1989) Victimology: the victim and the criminal justice process, London: Unwin Hyman. Mendelsohn, B (1947) 'New Bio-psychological horizons: victimology,' American Law Review.