Social Conflict Theory and Crime Term Paper by scribbler

Social Conflict Theory and Crime
A look at how social conflict theory sheds light on why people commit crimes.
# 152927 | 1,982 words | 10 sources | APA | 2013 | US
Published on May 01, 2013 in Sociology (Theory)

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The paper provides a brief history of conflict theory as it relates to crime, and refers to Jeffrey Reiman's book, "The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison" to discuss how law enforcement assumes that poor people are more likely to be in conflict with civil order and so they are the ones who pay the price. The paper focuses on the issue of cocaine abuse and explains how conflict theory addresses both the occasional user and the chronic, heavy drug abuser. Next, the paper discusses how conflict theory allows for the neutralization of conflict in any violent, criminal situation, and also sheds light on why some prisoners turn to crime in the prison environment. The paper highlights the socioeconomic struggles that lead to criminal activities and calls on society to do a better job making communities livable and safe.


From the Paper:

"According to Vito, et al, conflict theory has credibility as both "a theory of criminal behavior and as a theory of law" (Vito, et al, 2007, p. 218). On page 222 Vito references Jeffrey Reiman's book The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison. In his book Reiman asserts that dangerous actions by wealthy people "are often not even defined as criminal" and while the wealthy and middle class persons are "weeded out" the prisons "fill with predominantly poor individuals." Thus, the conflict theory is based on socioeconomic values, not just law and order. It is apparently assumed by law enforcement that poor people are more likely to be in conflict with civil order and hence they are the ones who pay the price, according to Reiman's book.
"Reiman uses the example of powder cocaine vs. crack cocaine to illustrate his point. Wealthier people can afford powder cocaine and people in the lower income brackets use the cheaper crack cocaine; but the punishment for crack is far more severe than for powder. This in part explains why some people commit crime; wealthy people using power cocaine know it is against the law, but they do it anyway because they can afford good legal representation and besides the penalties if they do get busted are far less severe than those using crack cocaine."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Aizenman, N. C. (2008). New High In U.S. Prison Numbers. The Washington Post. RetrievedOct. 26, 2010, from
  • Bratton, Letitia B. (1997). Themes of Conflict Theory. Journal of Teaching in Social Work. 15(1), 131-146.
  • Florida State University. (2009). Conflict Theory. Criminology Department. Retrieved Oct. 26,2010, from
  • Flynn, Edith Elisabeth. (1980). From Conflict Theory to Conflict Resolution. The AmericanBehavioral Scientist, 23(5), 745-773.
  • Lilly, Robert J., Cullen, Francis T., and Ball, Richard A. (2007). Criminological Theory: Contextand Consequences. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Cite this Term Paper:

APA Format

Social Conflict Theory and Crime (2013, May 01) Retrieved November 29, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Social Conflict Theory and Crime" 01 May 2013. Web. 29 November. 2020. <>