Thinking About: Left Realism

Left Realism is, as you probably know, one of the staple “crime theories” in a-level sociology (and if you didn’t, you do now) about which a lot has been written, not least by me in in various forms – from Notes through PowerPoint Presentations to Flipbooks.

However, a couple of things that tend to go missing in any discussion of Left Realism – and the “Criminogenic Triangle” of relative deprivation, subculture and political marginalisation in particular – is a sense of students being able to test the theory for themselves.

In this respect, a recent Guardian article, “Threat from far right may be receding since Tory election victory” caught my eye as a potentially-useful discussion piece in “These Trying Times”® because it explicitly links the idea of political marginalisation to crime and deviance in a way students should be able to apply to their understanding of Left Realism.

In addition, this reminded me about a piece I did some time ago (actually, a long time ago…) that included a simple Thought Experiment designed to get students thinking about the Criminogenic Triangle and how its elements might potentially be applied to different social groups (the elderly, middle class males, etc.) to “test” whether or not Left Realism “predicts” their deviance.

As you might expect, it’s Not Very Scientific and is really only designed to get students thinking about how Left Realism might be applied to any explanation of deviance and conformity among different social groups.

On re-reading the list I’ve used, one thing that stuck me was how applicable the Criminogenic Triangle might be to the virtual world of chatrooms and conspiracy theories as a way of explaining how and why some individuals take their anger and frustration out of the virtual and into the actual world through “violence against strangers” (in the form of mass shootings, for example).

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