Positivist and Constructionist Theories: Basic Differences

Better Essays
Positivist and Constructionist Theories: Basic Differences
Dana L Ward
Athens State University

Positivist and Constructionist Theories: Basic Differences
There is a basic difference in the two theories known as positivist and constructionist in sociology. It is considered determinism. In order to understand the theories and deviance, one must understand determinism. What is determinism? It is the belief that everything is already decided and occurs based on every thought, action and feeling we have by things that have already happened. The future then is determined by our past.
Positivism originated with August Comte. It was considered a philosophical approach that replaced speculation with science. Positivist theorists believe deviance is real and falls under three categories. First that deviance is absolutely real. Second, that deviance is observable or like an object and third that deviance is determined by forces. The old school positivism relied on biological reasons or factors. The newer idea or contemporary school looks at society as the cause of deviance. If deviance is the opposite of normalcy then what is normal? According to Emile Durkheim, normal is defined by specific behaviors or characteristics that are present in majority of cases, and exceptions are abnormal (Wikipedia). On the other hand, constructivism looks at finding the source for why we believe the way we believe, and life experiences effect, on those beliefs. They don’t consider the world as being divided into right and wrong, deviant and non-deviant. They believe the issue is not why certain people violate norms but how norms are constructed (including what factors are considered in defining people or labeling them as deviant) and how are sanctions applied--why are some people engaged in certain behaviors (or who possess particular characteristics) condemned and labeled, "deviant." Society has a tendency to label behavior that does not meet their definition of normal therefore



Cited: Levite, A. (1996, December 19th). The "ism" that isn 't(why social determinism cannot mean what it says). Retrieved from Independent Institute: http://www.independent.org/publications/article.asp?id=245 What are Positive or Constructionist Theories in Crime and Social Deviance. (2013, January 24). Retrieved from eHow.com: www.ehow.com/info_8116432_positive-theories-crime-social-deviance-.html#ixzz2IjnIRHbA Wikipedia. (n.d.). Retrieved from wikepedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normality_(behavior)

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Powerful Essays

    John Wayne Gacy Jr.

    • 4951 Words
    • 20 Pages

    Positivist Theory originated in the early 19th century (1810). This theory involves Auguste Comte’s (1798-1857) way of applying the scientific method to the study of society. Positivism is based on facts that are obtained through observation and not through belief. Unlike other theories that imply external factors as the cause of crime, this theory implies that crime is committed because of one’s biological features, or internal factors. Some people are crime prone because they have…

    • 4951 Words
    • 20 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Best Essays

    Our societies have changed and evolved since theorist have tried to give reason to why and how people participate in communities and organized groups. Some perspectives have become less relevant, as we become familiar with and accept new terms and concepts. Some theorists believe that the study of deviance has reached the end, and are a concept used for a particular social and…

    • 2133 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Best Essays
  • Best Essays

    With reference to the materials in Block 1 – and using your own words – compare and contrast:…

    • 1828 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Best Essays
  • Good Essays

    Positivists believe that only science can provide the objective ‘truth’ or facts about the world.Positivist sociologists believe that human behaviour is determined by social forces beyond the control of society’s members. These forces are generally referred to as ‘laws’ or ‘social facts’. Positivists…

    • 932 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Realism and Constructivism are two theories that offer two different alternative answers to the outcome of future relations. Realism is based on the principle of state security and survival. The recent expansion of China into the South China Sea is due to China wanting to establish a modern tributary system. The tributary system was based on the principle that countries that were interested in trading with China, had to pay tribute to the Chinese emperor and the tribute was loyalty. In today’s China, the emperor has been substituted for the CCP and its using its economic growth to buy the loyalty of other countries that support Taiwan. “By 2050, China’s economy will be much larger than America’s-perhaps three times larger…and the world could…

    • 309 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    For hundreds of years, people have been trying to understand criminals and what causes people to act criminally. Many theories were created and some became more widely accepted than others. In the 1700s, a new perspective into criminality rose; the classical perspective. Father of the classical perspective, Cesare Beccaria, provided theories much different from the previous ideas about why people commit crimes. He and others who believed in the classical perspective focused on the idea of free will, and how people weigh the cost and benefits before committing a crime. Beccaria was also a big promoter of deterrence and how it plays a key role in helping reduce crime in societies. After the age of the classical perspective, the father of a new perspective came about, Cesare Lombroso and the positivist perspective. Backed up by theories posed by Charles Darwin, the positivist perspective quickly became widely popular. This perspective rejected the classical ideas and in turn said people do not have free will and do not rationally decide to commit a crime. Their criminal actions were based off of many outside biological, sociological, and psychological factors. Given these widely different beliefs, it is easy to set apart these two perspectives. The opposing views of free will and rational choice, the ways in which positivists think they can identify criminals, and the method for stopping crime are all major aspects that differ a lot between these viewpoints.…

    • 1110 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    “Positivists believe that sociologists should use quantitative methods and aim to identity and measure social structures”. (Abbott, D 2010). They also believe that people’s behaviour is governed by external stimuli; that their ideas, feelings and emotions are irrelevant, thus sociology can construct and base theories on direct observation of human behaviour. (Durkheim, E)…

    • 1901 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    By applying the theories of crime and deviance, one may see why such a pattern of positivity may decrease. The theories of deviance and crime are…

    • 725 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Sociological positivism studies the relationship between social situations and crime. It studies the social structures of an offender, such as family, environment, and social status and how that relates to the crime. It also purposes that criminal acts are inevitable because of certain social aspects of life.…

    • 285 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Early Functionalist ideas, as seen in Item A, are interested in explaining why some people in society break the rules and overall see crime as a group activity. The following approaches see the deviant as simply reacting to external forces largely beyond their control and see crime and deviance as social facts that can be measured in society.…

    • 1608 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Teacher will review the bones of the human skeleton, and their located in the body. Students will create a picture of the human skeleton using a variety of art objects. Students will then describe and understand the different bones with the use of a word bank.…

    • 3162 Words
    • 13 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    Crime and deviance are issues that dominate the public’s imagination; the study of which involves a number of contributing disciplines, criminology, statistics, psychology, biology to name a few but the largest contributor is sociology. There have been major changes in the way Sociologists perceive and study deviance over the years. In this essay the author will briefly compare and contrast the perspectives of Marxian and Positivism as they relate to the issues of crime and deviant behavior. The author will offer her opinion as to which perspective she feels best relates to her understanding of crime and deviance.…

    • 851 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Criminological Theory

    • 1137 Words
    • 5 Pages

    There exist many theories that have been used to explain crime. First is the classical theory of Cesare Beccaria, which claims that crime happens when the benefits outweigh the costs or when individuals chase after self-interests in the absence of effective punishments. Thus crime is seen as a free-willed choice. Second is the Positivist theory of Cesare Lombroso, Adolphe Quetelet and Andre Guerry, which is grounded in the concept that crime…

    • 1137 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    Positivist Theory

    • 748 Words
    • 3 Pages

    After thoroughly researching, and reading articles both online and printed material, about Positivist theory and the lifestyle of Charles Manson leading his followers up to the murders in 1969. I have managed to gather a great deal of material concerning the area of know how to apply the positivist theory in Charles Manson’s crime history. Auguste Comte (1798- 1857) stated that Positivism theory is a philosophical approach with basic premises such as measurement, objectivity, and causality, but Lombroso’s concept is that, the appearance of criminals is, physical stigmata; atavism; biological inheritance and cause criminality. He also stated that early positivistic theories saw criminals as throwbacks to earlier evolutionary epochs. Does Charles Manson fit in this theory? Let’s search Lombroso’s concept about positivism in Charles Manson’s acts and through his early childhood.…

    • 748 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    To begin with, Strawson reviews two main positions on which to size up the threat of determinism on the notion of freedom. Firstly, the optimists, who believe that the truth of determinism is compatible with our moral practices as well as our inter-personal relationships, secondly, the pessimists who believe that the truth of determinism runs contrary to these two practices. To explain why the theory of determinism should be considered to have such an influential impact, Strawson writes that the pessimists argue:…

    • 1904 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Powerful Essays

Related Topics