Marxists such as Gordon explain crime by arguing that capitalism is characterized by class inequalities in the distribution of eg: wealth and income , poverty and unemployment so he argues most working class crime is realist and rational response to these inequalities. For example , poverty may mean that crime is the only way the working class can survive. Also ,crime may be the only way they can obtain the consumer goods they are encouraged by advertising to buy, resulting in utilitarian crimes such as theft. In addition , alienation and lack of control over their lives may lead to frustration and aggression, resulting in non-utilitarian crimes such as violence and vandalism. Therefore , considering the nature of capitalism we should why ‘why they don't commit more crime’ not ‘why do they commit crime’. Moreover , he claims the ideology of capitalism encourages criminal behaviour in all social classes and so it is not confined only to the working class eg: values like competition , materialism and consumerism as well as the profit motive because encourage a culture of greed and self- interest . The need to win at all costs or go out of business as well as the desire for self-enrichment encourage capitalists to commit white-collar and corporate crimes such as tax evasion and at the same time they also encourage a ‘culture of envy’ among poor people encouraging criminal reaction. Marxists such as Gordon explain crime by suggesting that the class inequalities that exist due to capitalism and the ideology of capitalism make crime is a rational response to the capitalist system and is found in all social classes.
Marxists also explain crime by suggesting that the powerless groups such as the working class and ethnic minorities are criminalized and the police and courts tend to ignore the crimes of the powerful. Reiman suggests that 'street crimes' such as assault and theft are far more likely to be reported and pursued by the police than much 'white collar' crime such as fraud or 'insider trading' in the City .Thus, the more likely a crime is to be committed by higher-class people, the less likely it is to be treated as a criminal offence. In addition, certain groups in the population are more likely to be on the receiving end of law enforcement. As crime is regarded as most common among the working class, the young, and blacks, there is a much greater police presence among these populations than elsewhere, and the approach the police adopt towards them is also said to be more confrontational'. Gordon argues that the selective enforcement of the law helps to maintain ruling class power and reinforce ruling class ideology. It gives the impression that criminals are located mainly in the working class, this divides the working class by encouraging workers to blame the criminals in their midst for their problems, rather than capitalism. The law, crime and criminals also perform an ideological function for capitalism. Laws are occasionally passed that appear to be for the benefit of the working class rather than capitalism, such as workplace health and safety laws. Pearce argues that such laws often benefit the ruling class too eg: by keeping workers fit for work. By giving capitalism a ‘caring’ face, such laws also create false consciousness among the workers. In any case, such laws are not rigorously enforced.
The strengths of Marxists explanation of crime is that it offers a useful explanation of the relationship between crime and capitalist society. Also , it shows the link between law making and enforcement and the interests of the capitalist class (by doing so it also puts into a wider structural context the insights of labelling theory regarding the selective enforcement of the law). Moreover , it casts doubt on the validity of official statistics on crime. Official statistics are of little use if they simply reflect a policy of selective law enforcement and