One school of thought of criminology is the conflict theory. The conflict theory is centered around the idea that people commit crimes because of underlying social and economic issues. For example, people steal food from a store because they or members of their family are hungry or people kill others because they see no other way to make a negative situation better. They see the murder of a particular person as a way to help society as a whole. In other words, the conflict theory proclaims that crime occurs as a result of perceived or real personal or group conflict.
The conflict theory places the entire justice system, including criminal courts on a pedastal. A pedastal that only the wealthiest and most priviliged people can reach. The justice system appears to be a way to empower those highest on the social ladder and crush those clinging to the lowest rungs. Laws and policies are seen to be formulated with the best interests of the wealthy in mind and to create a clear separation between these people and the poor. Laws are made that get in the way of the survival of people of low economic status which seem to intentionally push them towards criminal behavior. When more and more restrictions are introduced and people have to choose between meeting their basic needs and breaking the law, they will almost always choose to meet their basic needs and survive even if it means that they will have to eventually face legal reprucussions and punishments.
According to this theory, people of lower economic status commit crimes merely to survive. If these people had the means that people of higher social classes had, they wouldn't commit crimes because they wouldn't have a need to.
This theory concentrates mostly upon the differences in the thought processes of the highest and lowest social classes. It assumes that people of the middle class are likely to side with those of the highest class becasue they see this bond as a security blanket. As long as they stay on the side of the wealthy they will be protected and will never be categorized as lower class individuals who are most likely to commit crimes.
In summary, the conflict theory is just one school of thought of the field of criminology. This theory indicates that all crime has social or economic basis. Those theorists who prescribe to this particular school of thought believe that society thrives upon competition and conflict between incompatible values and interests. These incompatabilities are the root cause of crime. Crime would be non-existent or nect to non-existent if this competition and conflict did not exist.