Lombrosso Essay

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1.1. Evaluate cultural/historical relativity of Crime & Deviance

Cesare Lombroso lived between 1835–1909, he was an Italian who was educated in medicine and became a specialist in psychiatry. His work was more scientific (painstakingly collecting, measuring data and taking nothing for granted) in which moved it away from religious theories which were mainly used at the time. Lombroso's theory stated that criminality was inherited. His work was based on theories of Darwin's ‘atavism', believing that a criminal is a more primitive throwback of a human being. Therefore falling into a group known as ‘born criminals' in which physical attributes resembled those of an ape. Many of his techniques were questionable he paid little heed to transient characteristics or physical processes. His sampling was a major drawback, he studied the mentally ill and while collecting samples from prison populations, where compared to the population as a whole, there was an over-representation of Sicilian origin (of which his ‘atavism' theory had an uncanny physical resemblance to the Sicilian people). In later works he played down the statement and said that ‘born criminals' only represented a third of all criminals and also puts factors such as poor education, climate and rainfall that would affect criminality. The acceptance of the idea of a born criminal would lead to the conclusion that because they were born a criminal it wouldn't be right to punish them, because it wasn't there fault. (Williams, K (1997)) Lombroso's theory was quashed by many, stated as ‘naïve', anthropology had advanced to the point of accepting that the idea of uniform and linear evolution was too simplistic (Vold and Bernard (1986) cited in Williams, K (1997))
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