Afurther perspective on crime and punishment is realist criminology which looksat the attempt to make a difference and change the normality of crime. Thereare two sides to realism, the first being right realism which emerged in the 1970’s.Right realism favors a hard hitting, tough approach and a zero-toleranceapproach towards the changing of criminality. Right realism favors the expansionof prisons, focuses on ‘risk’ populations who are identified as ethnic minoritiesand the ‘underclass’.
The other side of realism, left realism, is a reaction tothe actions of right realism. Left realism favors a social justice approach,with holding importance towards community engagement and welfare support todeal with poverty and unemployment. The right realism side looks at practicalsolutions in reducing crime, such as perpetuating moral panics to sway thepublic to agree with their views (Truman,2015).
Forright realists, crime is an individual factor, with characteristics promotingcrime such as low intelligence, an individual’s rational choice, low impulsecontrol, hyperactivity and aggression. Therefore, right realists focus onpushing harsher punishment out onto society, mass imprisonment as well aswelfare reduction or removal. The left side of realism believe thatcrime is intra-class and intra-racial, rather than a result of resistance tosociety.
In relation to intra-class ideas, left realism draws on the idea of straintheory illustrated by Merton, where certain stressors in an individual’s life,leads them to pursue crime as an attempt to alleviate the negative emotionsthat the strain brings out (Robert Agnew, Heather Scheuerman, 2015). Left realists argue there is norelationship between inequality and crime, instead a phenomenon of relativedeprivation, where an individual feels anger due to their discrimination inrelation to other members of society. (Schulze M., Krätschmer-Hahn R,2014)Left realism also raisesissues about the states responsibility for law and order which has implicationsfor every aspect of our lives. Therefore,left realists argue that to tackle the problem of crime, you need to tackle theproblem of social exclusion, advance social justice and promote restorativejustice.
To conclude, by examining thedifferent perspectives on crime, one can see the differences between theindividual and social theories of crime and punishment. Individual theories ofcrime and punishment focus heavily on the idea of the individual beingresponsible for their crime through the relationship they develop with theirfamily. Social theories differ in the fact that they focus heavily on the ideaof crime being a response to the environment and institutions around anindividual rather than the individual themselves.