Cultural Conflict When there are a number of subcultures (ethnic, religious, national regional, class) in a society, this reduces the degree of value consensual. The clashing norms of differing subcultures create a condition of anomie formlessness. The norms of the dominant culture become written into law, making criminals of those sharing a divergent subculture. The culture of the lower class is in conflict with dominant norms, which are mostly middle-class norms. Thus lower-class persons, merely by living out the cultural norms they have learned, come into conflict with the conventional morality, as outlined in a classic article by Miller some years ago [1958J. The cultural conflict theory provides a reasonable explanation for some kinds of deviation among some groups, such as among second generation immigrants or mistreated racial minorities, but it offers little insight into deviation among the well-born and powerful.
Class Conflict Theory. Class conflict theorists reject the consensus model of a stable, integrated society whose members are in basic agreement upon values. They consider that conflict of values, not consensus upon values, is the basic reality of modem Western societies. They view “consensus upon values” as a myth which is artfully cultivated by the powerful for their. own benefit, as it makes their values seem fo be the values of everybody.
Class conflict theorists attribute deviation not to the different cultural norms of different social classes but to their different in crests. . Marx argued that capitalist societies develop laws and institutions Which protect the interests of the, propertied classes and make criminals of all who, challenge their privilege. Conflict criminologists follow Marx in seeing crime as a product of class exploitation. Laws are passed to protect the existing capitalist order.Most crime is property crime, and most police work is property protection. Deviation will continue as long as class inequalities and class exploitation continue [Chambliss and Mankoff, 1976; Quinney, 1980]. Some points of conflict theory are uncountable. How, for example, does one prove whether our “consensus” upon private property rights is a genuine consensus or a piece of clever propagandizing by the powerful?” Whether all should have equal incomes or some should get more than others is a moral question not a scientific question. Such questions can never be, settled by any empirical evidence.