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Criminology (1st edn)

Steve Case, Phil Johnson, David Manlow, Roger Smith, and Kate Williams
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date: 02 July 2022

p. 47817. Right and left realismlocked

p. 47817. Right and left realismlocked

  • Steve Case, Steve CaseProfessor of Criminology, University of Loughborough
  • Phil Johnson, Phil JohnsonCriminology Lecturer and Academic Subject Leader, University Centre at Blackburn College
  • David Manlow, David ManlowPrincipal Lecturer in Criminology
  • Roger SmithRoger SmithProfessor of Social Work, Durham University
  •  and Kate WilliamsKate WilliamsSenior Lecturer in Criminology, Aberystwyth University


This chapter examines left and right realism, which address real problems faced by society and suggest solutions. It first considers the political context surrounding the emergence of realist criminologies before discussing three common themes which unite right realism: a focus on ‘street crime’; anti-intellectualism; and a focus on punishing criminals. It then outlines the policy implications of right realist theorising, paying attention to the work of James Q. Wilson and Charles Murray's arguments about criminality. It also explores the ideas of individualism, consumerism and relative deprivation as they relate to criminal behaviour and concludes with an assessment of the key ideas of left realism, including social inclusion and exclusion, as well as its policy implications.

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