The positivist school of criminology is one of the two major schools of criminology, the other being the classical school. In contrast to the classical school, which posits that criminal acts are the result of calculation and free, rational decision making, the positivist approach turns to factors outside and beyond the offender’s control as responsible for the root cause of criminal activity. The identification of these factors adheres to empirical methodologies, in particular statistical analysis. The earliest form of positivism within criminological thinking arose in the late 19th century, when some of the founding principles of the classical school began to be challenged by figures such as Cesare Lombroso, Enrico Ferri, and Raffaele Garofalo. The term criminology itself actually came into emergence during this time frame, both within Garofalo’s own works as well as that of French anthropologist Paul Topinard.
Positivist criminology asserts that criminal behaviour has its own set of distinct characteristics, and that criminal behaviour is accordingly linked with psychological factors and clearly defined genetic traits (the notion of a genetic criminal type has since been discredited). Positivist research seeks to identify key differences between criminals and non-criminals, such as linking personality traits with particular crimes to identify individual pathologies and formative experience that influence one’s predisposition towards law-breaking; this approach is known as individual positivism. In contrast, other theorists who regard crime as a consequence of social influences, seeking to realize factors responsible for crime within external categories such as poverty, population density, exposure to deviant or criminal subcultures, and racial or demographical alienation; this approach is known as sociological positivism. Together, these approaches have informed the positivist school’s quest to integrate criminal behaviour with the quantification practices of scientific objectivity.
At Homework Help USA, our experts in criminal law examine the positivist school in relation to the classical school of criminology, investigating biological, psychological, and sociological explanations of crime as well as the various intersections between theories involving control, rational choice, and deterrence in opposition to opportunity theory and sociology of law. They are capable of producing instructive and argumentative essays examining positivist legal principles and the underlying causes of criminal activity within a variety of social, economical, and political networks. Trust the experts at Homework Help USA – get a quote now!
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Classical and Positive School of Criminology Essay
1020 WordsNov 21st, 20055 Pages
The Classical School of Criminology and the Positive School of Criminology are two of the main theories that try and explain the behavior of delinquents. The Classical School of Criminology was developed in the late 1700s by Cesare Beccaria. Classical theorists were trying to decrease punishment and obtain equal justice for all.
"According to Beccaria and Jeremy Bantham, and English philospther, human nature is characterized by three central features: 1) People are not bound by original sin but have freedom of choice; 2) people are rational and are capable of using reason to govern their lives; and 3) people are motivated to pursue their own self-interests at the expense of others." (Empey pg. 113) They believed that people are…show more content…
Despite the plausibility of callsical theories, they could be false. If they could not be supported by empirical evidence, other theories must be sought. The job of criminologists was to formulate and test theories of crime and crime control.
· The doctrine of determinism. Postivists also argued that crime, like any other phenomenon, is determined by prior causes; it doesn't just happen. The emphasis of the classical school on reason and free will, they said, is too simplistic. People are not always free to do as they wish. Much, if not all, of their behavior is determined by biological, psychological, and social forces over which the have little personal control. Because certain laws govern the operation of theos forces, another job of criminologists was to discober the laws about crime.
· Value neutrality. Positvists argued, in addition, that there is a need to be neutral about societal values. Although politicians, citizens, and criminal justice officials had to be concerned with implementing policies that are consistent with prevailing values, criminologists ere to be concerned primarily with trying to understand why people violate the law and the effects of alternatibe crime control policies. This is not to say that criminologists couldn't espouse certain values in their roles as ordinary citizens. But as scientists, the were to confine themselves to "facts" based on objective evidence. (Empey pg. 114,115)