Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: November 23, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412959193 | Print ISBN: 9781412959186 | Online ISBN: 9781412959193 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Chambliss, William J.: Power, Conflict, and Crime
Mark S. Hamm
A pioneer of conflict theory, William J. Chambliss's career spans 50 years of research on the problems and patterns of power in society. Through his studies of organized crime figures, opium farmers, gang members, pirates, and corrupt politicians, Chambliss demonstrated that conflict between social classes is the basic social process in a capitalist society—and the key to understanding criminal justice procedures and structures. Chambliss's primary contribution to conflict theory was to advance knowledge about who makes laws, how and why they are enforced, and the relationship between those who have power and those who do not. In an early work on the role that power plays in determining what people are the targets of law enforcement, Chambliss wrote: “Those people are arrested, tried and sentenced who can offer the fewest rewards for non-enforcement of the laws and who can be processed without creating any undue strain for the organizations which ...