Positivism:

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Key feature of Positivism:

Biological, psychological and sociological: 

Aims:

  • explain and predict causes of crime
  • thought to lie outside of the individuals control. 

Methods:

  • Use of 'natural science' methods (experiments) 
  • To produce law like statments ('A causes B' 
  • "We are empirical scientistis: you lot are armchair speculators" (Enrico Ferro)
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Key feature of Positivism:

Biological, psychological and sociological: 

Aims:

  • explain and predict causes of crime
  • thought to lie outside of the individuals control. 

Methods:

  • Use of 'natural science' methods (experiments) 
  • To produce law like statments ('A causes B' 
  • "We are empirical scientistis: you lot are armchair speculators" (Enrico Ferro)
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Classicism VS Positivism:

Classicism:

  • Object of study =  The offence 
  • Nature of the Offender = Free-willed, rational choice, calculating normal 
  • Response to Crime = Punishment, proportionate to the offence. 

Positivism:

  • Object of study = The offender
  • Nature of the offender = Determined - drivien by biological, psychological or other influences.                                          pathological
  • Response to crime = Treatment indeterminate, depending on individual circumstances
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Classicism VS Positivism:

Classicism:

  • Object of study =  The offence 
  • Nature of the Offender = Free-willed, rational choice, calculating normal 
  • Response to Crime = Punishment, proportionate to the offence. 

Positivism:

  • Object of study = The offender
  • Nature of the offender = Determined - drivien by biological, psychological or other influences.                                          pathological
  • Response to crime = Treatment indeterminate, depending on individual circumstances
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Lombroso:

  • Late 19th century promotion of 'scientific' criminology.
  • Influence of Darwin's the Origins of Species challenge to Theology. 
  • The law of Genetics, abnormalities and atavism ( term used to describe the appearance of organisms resembling ancestral forms of life) 

Systematic Observations: 

  • conducted autopsies on 66 deceased criminals.
  • compared 832 living prison inmates with 390 soldies.
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The Lombrosian Project:

  • Determination = (criminals not responsible for their actions?) 
  • Differentiation = ( criminals different kinds of human being?) 
  • Pathology = ( criminals are different because they are flawed)
  • Distinctions = can be demonstrated through systematic, experimental observations. 
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Lombroso and the 'BORN CRIMINAL'

  • Avatvistic stigmata of the criminal man:
  • Deviation in head size and shape. 
  • Asymmetry of the fact. 
  • Eccessive dimensions of the jaw and cheek bones
  • Eye defects and peculiarities;
  • ears of unusal size, or occasionally very small, or standing out from the head as do those of a chimpanzee.
  • nose twisted, upturnes, or flattened in thieves, or acquiline or beaklike in murderes, or with a tip rising like a peak from swollen nostrils. 
  • lipe fleshy, swollen and protruding
  • chin receding, or excessively long or short and flat, as in apes.
  • excessive length of arms. 
  • (Lombroso 1876) 
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Key Criticisms:

1) Sampling bias: 

  • known offender popultion (Sicilian prisoners)
  • uncritical acceptance of state-defined crime and criminals
  • ignorance of changing definitions of crime over time and between different jurisdictions of criminal law. 

2) problem of slection control groups of non-criminal for experiments

3) envrionmental factors

4) Refutation: The english convict (goring 1913) 

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Later Biological positivism:

Genetic Factors: 

  • Eugenics (e.g Us, Nazi party) 
  • Twin studies 
  • Adoption studies (Mednick et al 1987) 

Biochemical factors

  • Cnetral nervous system
  • ADHD
  • hormones 
  • nutrition 
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Adoption Studies (Mednick et al, 1987)

Mednick et al, 1987

  • studied criminal records for all 12,427 children adopted in Denmark between 1924 - 1947
  • Found a strong correlation between the adoptive son and biological father criminality, especially in the case of chronic offenders.

Criticisms of the theory and method:

  • 1) measurement validity (measuring known as opposed to actual offending populations.
  • proble of using offical rather than self-report data to gauge actual levels of offending behaviour.
  • problem of identifying control groups of non-criminal parents (or just those yet to be caught)
  • 2) Internal validitiy (environmental rather than genetic causation of offending behaviour) 
  • probability that adopted children placed in similar (criminogenic) environments which they came.
  • many children adopted some time after they were born, often well into adolescence, having in the interim been subject to (often criminogenic) envrionmental influences on thir behaviour.
  • 3) external validity (State-defined criminality in Denmark as opposed to 'crime' in general)
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Biological positivism: Behaviour Genetics:

  • idea that there is a biological cause - gense - that can explain criminal conduct. 

Example: 

  • Herman Henry 'Bud' Von Dohlen.
  • Supreme court, south carolina 
  • in 'his alerted mental state (the murder) Was not a volitational thing but out of his conscious awareness or control" (psychiatrist) 
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Psychological positivism:

  • belief in the existence of a 'criminal mind'
  • there are patterns of reasoning and behvious that are specific to individual offenders.
  • Psychoanalytical and behvioural learning theories:
  • see the criminal mind as a product conscience or 'conditionability' (hence fully determined, pathological, individuals) 
  • Cognitive learning theories: 
  • acknowledge the capacity for creative throught (making choices to offend that can be influenced by an individuals social environment)
  • developmental criminology:
  • examines the interaction of cognitive and environmental influences on the onset and desistance of individual offending.
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behavioural Learning Theories:

Eysenck and personality theory:


  • General theory of crime causaion
  • learned conditioned behaviour
  • inherited cortical and autonomic nervous system affect capacity for conditioning.
  • the propensity to offend is controlled by the conditionability of individuals.

Theory: 

  • 3 basic component of personality. each of which is conceived as a continuum: 
  • Extroversion ( E = thrill-seeking, crreative, assertive and dominant) 
  • Neutoticism ( N = anxious, sensitive, depressed, emotional, low self-esteem, moody, and shy)
  • Psychoticism ( P = Insensitive, solitary, impulsive, egocentric , anti-social) 
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Criticisms of Eysenck:

1: Measurment Validity: 

  • problem of using experimental groups of prisoners on remand ( not actually convicted as criminals yet) 
  • problem identifying non-criminals in the control groups of university students: 

2: Internal validity: 

  • lack of empirical suypport of presumed casual relationship between under stimulated automic systems, the conditionability of personalities and offending behaviour.

3. External Validity: 

  • cultural mediation of what constitutes an 'extrover' or 'neurotic' etc... personality in differenct social contexts.
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Cognitive learning Theories:

Sutherland (1947) and Differential Association:


  • crime is leanred like any other activity
  • individuals learn through association and imitation
  • frequency and consistency of contacts with criminal associates determines imitation
  • such contacts can be used to explain 'white-collar crimes' as well as 'street crimes' 

Critique of the theory:

  • need to explain why behaviour can chan (e.g desistance from offending) 
  • cognitive processes rather than immutable personalities
  • problem-solving rather than simple response to stimuli. 
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Evaluation Cognitive Learning theories:

  • ist here such a thing as a 'criminal mind' or personality? 
  • Determinism and choice? 
  • methods and abuse:
  • - behaviour modification stratigies
  • - 250 children (mostly US)
  • - kidnapped and held for 3 years
  • - untrained staff, tranquility bay, jamaica
  • respectful, polite and obedient. 
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Developmental criminology:

  • risk and protective factors (Maguire 1995)
  • - individual risk factors(low intelligence, personality, impulsiveness, cognitive skills)
  • - family factos (criminal parents, large fam size, child-rearing)
  • - socio-economic, peer, school, community factors of cuasing crimes. (deprivation, perr association, school cultues, criminogentic communities)
  • all may lead to delinquent or criminal  
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Developmental criminology:

  • risk and protective factors (Maguire 1995)
  • - individual risk factors(low intelligence, personality, impulsiveness, cognitive skills)
  • - family factos (criminal parents, large fam size, child-rearing)
  • - socio-economic, peer, school, community factors of cuasing crimes. (deprivation, perr association, school cultues, criminogentic communities)
  • all may lead to delinquent or criminal  
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Developmental criminology:

  • risk and protective factors (Maguire 1995)
  • - individual risk factors(low intelligence, personality, impulsiveness, cognitive skills)
  • - family factos (criminal parents, large fam size, child-rearing)
  • - socio-economic, peer, school, community factors of cuasing crimes. (deprivation, perr association, school cultues, criminogentic communities)
  • all may lead to delinquent or criminal  
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