Individual Positivism

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Positivism emerged towards the end of the nineteenth century, and sought to oppose traditional, Classical ways of criminological thinking. The theory tended to look at crime scientifically, in order to produce facts based around the key causes of crime and so, they could attempt to truly understand what kind of people offend and for what reasons. Offenders and offending behaviour had been understood before as voluntary concepts, where people had free will and the choice to commit crime (or not to). Positivists began to observe crime as a more deterministic concept and challenged whether or not people really do choose to offend. Moreover, the overall and fundamental view of an Individual Positivist is that those who become involved in crime or deviance are characteristically different to those who abide by the law. The theory, also known as Eugenics is a primarily, biologically based theory that claims that criminality is individualistic, i.e. crime is committed mainly by individuals as opposed to those in groups. These theorists put forward the notion that certain idiosyncrasies – either physical or psychological – are similar in those who are criminal, and those who are not in turn, will not fit this particular criteria. Physical attributes such as, having ‘darker skin’ or ‘larger ears’ were believed by Cesare Lombroso to be influential factors for involvement in crime and deviance. (2006) (companion refs) Lombroso believed that there was an “in-born criminality” in criminals. He called them “atavistic” with features more akin to “savages”, a view held by many positivists. Other developments in this psychological approach found that even the size of the human brain is a determinant factor for criminal behaviour. (2008) (companion) Eysenck furthers this argument by saying that someone’s IQ level can determine their criminality. He backs this up by highlighting statistics that display Chinese or Asian people being the most intelligent people in the world...
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