Marxist criminology is one of the schools of criminology. It parallels the work of the structural functionalism school which focuses on what produces stability and continuity in society but, unlike the functionalists, it adopts a predefined political philosophy. As in conflict criminology, it focuses on why things change, identifying the disruptive forces in industrialized societies, and describing how society is divided by power, wealth, prestige, and the perceptions of the world. "The shape and character of the legal system in complex societies can be understood as deriving from the conflicts inherent in the structure of these societies which are stratified economically and politically" (Chambliss, 1971). It is concerned with the causal relationships between society and crime, i.e. to establish a critical understanding of how the immediate and structural social environment gives rise to crime and criminogenic conditions.
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Karl Marx argued that the law is the mechanism by which one social class, usually referred to as the "ruling class", keeps all the other classes in a disadvantaged position. Thus, this school uses a Marxist lens through which, inter alia (among other things), to consider the criminalization process, and by which explain why some acts are defined as deviant whereas others are not. It is therefore interested in political crime, state crime, and state-corporate crime.