Positivist and Classical Criminology

Topics: Criminology, Sociology, Crime Pages: 3 (917 words) Published: May 26, 2013
The classical and positivist approaches to criminological theory The classical and positivist approaches to criminological theory were both highly influential in their definition of and approach to dealing with crime and criminal punishment. For centuries scholars and theorists have attempted to adopt a new and effective approach to criminal punishment, in the hope that one can understand and thus know how to deal with criminal behaviour in an effective manner. Yet, while the two theories are rather different, they also contain similarities, and both influence the criminal systems of even today around the world. In an attempt to compare and evaluate the two, a brief explanation is necessary, in order to understand exactly how they differ and combine on certain elements.

The classical approach to criminal behaviour was the first to move away from the concept of classifying crime as a sin. It thus brought the shift from unfettered power to punish criminal behaviour on a spiritual level to a reason-based approach, with checks on authority. In contrast, the positivist approach adopts a statistical based approach, under which societal factors are assessed to determine which characteristics are more likely to cause crime. At once, one can see the fundamentally different bases upon which each theory is propped

Whats classical criminology

Classical criminology is an approach to the legal system that arose during the Enlightenment in the 1700s. Philosophers like Cesare Beccaria, John Locke, and Jeremy Bentham expanded upon social contract theory to explain why people commit crime and how societies could effectively combat crime. The concepts continue to play a large role in the legal systems of many nations today, although the approach in the modern world tends to be a bit more flexible. It is important to understand the context in which classical criminology was developed. During the Enlightenment, Europe was changing radically, with many nations emerging from...
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