What are the two main types of Marxist thought? Which one best describes the philosophy of the article, "A Sociological Analysis of Vagrancy"?

Essay by kfehrle April 2004

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In Marxist theory of criminology there are two main types of thought. The first one being the "Instrumental Marxist" and the second one is the "Structural Marxist". The instrumental Marxist theory is revolved around the economic structure. They feel that the economy determines everything. And that the economy promotes the upper class.

This school of thought says that the upper class of our society determines how the laws are enacted, enforced and what type of punishment is given.

The structural Marxist thinks we can shape the law by other means, not just our social or economic status. They say that how we can deal with crime by many co-factors. Some of these factors are law, our education, religion, and morality. This Marxist theory is more realistic from my point of view. It gives hope to the person born into a lower class family that they can rise above that class and maybe be part of the upper class, given hard work and determination.

When reading the article "A Sociological Analysis of Vagrancy" I thought it represented the instrumental Marxist philosophies. It discusses how the powerful land owners (upper class) created the Vagrancy Laws to provide themselves with cheat labor (lower class). Then when the land owners no longer needed the labor the laws become ineffective. This proves that the upper class determines the law.