Unlike other Criminological Schools such as Classicism and Positivism, Marxist Criminology does not locate the 'causes' of criminality within the individual. Rather, the Marxist Criminological perspective moves beyond this realm of the individual towards the criminality of the state (Walklate, 2007). In this sense, it follows a similar set of contentions to the labelling perspective and strain theory, although the fundamental theoretical groundwork is not supplied by the academic discipline of Sociology. Although located within this discipline the ideas of 'functionalism' and 'Conflict' are very relevant. Functionalism is a perspective that views society; it's institutions, authorities, policies and the like, as all serving in a functional manner. That is to say that there is no conflict in society between groups and individuals of varying background and ideals (Hopkins-Burke, 2009). On the other hand, conflict theory rejects this idea, and argue that society is full of tension and conflict that stems from a number of sources, notably that of unequal power distribution. (It is worthy of note that Bratain is one of the most unequal societies in Western Europe).
Marxist Criminology follows the perspective discussed above of a conflict ridden society. The theoretical substance of this school obviously is rooted within a political ideology; Marxism. It is interesting to mention at this point however, that Karl Marx [] himself actually said very little about crime in his writings. Key Marxist criminological theorising can be found in the work of Chambliss and Quinney. The Marxist perspective can be claimed as endeavouring to further the labelling perspectives concern with the power to label. Quinney embarked on an attempt to illuminate the way in which what is seen to be problematic and not problematic gets taken for granted and embedded in social relations, and claimed this served the interests of the powerful in society far more readily than the powerless (Walklate 2007). In this vein the argument of class position dependant criminality is inferred by Quinney. Chambliss writing in ‘Toward a political economy of crime’ in 1975 makes his understanding of the nexus between class, crime and the political economy unambiguous. His construction of a political economy of crime is clearly underpinned by Marxist dogma (Walklate 2007). Chambliss states that the development of capitalism brings with it an increasing class conflict that ultimately results in more acts being defined as criminal. Although he proposes that the lower classes (the proletariat) do commit crime he also recognises that the ruling classes also perpetrate such crime.