Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: June 02, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412971928 | Print ISBN: 9781412950855 | Online ISBN: 9781412971928 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Conflict theory is sometimes thought of as an alternative theory of crime and delinquency. In the 1960s and 1970s, conflict theorists such as George Void, Austin Turk, and Richard Quinney began to call attention to the role of social structure and the distribution of political and economic resources in influencing who became enmeshed in the criminal justice system. Such theories were considered radical or outside the mainstream of well-established criminological theories (e.g., strain theory, social disorganization theory, differential association theory). It was radical to argue that theorists, researchers, and criminal justice public policymakers alike should turn their attention to the competition in society for sometimes scarce resources. It was even more radical to ask the question, “Who gets to say what is a crime and what the punishment will be for those who break the law?” Conflict theorists saw a plethora of evidence suggesting that those with the most power ...