Positivist Theory of Crime Lombroso Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Positivist Theory of Crime, Lombroso

Criminal Behavior Treatment Program and Positivist Theory

The objective of this study is to examine the positivist theory of crime posited by Lombroso and to develop a crime prevention or treatment program.

Cesare Lombroso is held to be the founder of modern criminology and to have introduced the positivist movement in the latter part of the nineteenth century, which has made a more scientific approach to criminology available. Empirical scientific research in understanding criminality was first introduced by the positivist approach. According to Farr (nd) positivism is based in logic and is "the philosophy that combined epistemological phenomenalism with 'scientism' that is, with the belief in the desirability of scientific and technological progress." (Farr, nd, p.2)

Three Types of Positivism

Positivism as it relates to criminology can be divided into three types including: (1) biological; (2) psychological; and (3) Social. (Farr, nd, p.2) Positivist methods of social research utilize empirical scientific methods and "are grounded in the rational proof-disproof of scientific assertions and assume a knowable objective reality." (Farr, nd) The objective of positivism is to obtain objective facts, unlike interpretivism, which is subjective and is more concerned with uncovering the meaning behind actions; and has three premises: measurement (quantification); objectivity (neutrality); and causality (determinism)." (Farr, nd, p.3)

Farr reports that positivism is such that enables the acquisition of "objective scientific information… in order to develop workable theories, human behavior must be treated scientifically as a product of cause and effect, so viable inferences can be made. " (Farr, nd, p.3) Farr states that positivism was formulated "on the intention of obtaining facts about social life and human behavior. The primary work of Lombroso is one that contains sections on meteorological, geological, anthropological, demographic educational, economic, religious, genetic, and political causes of crime. Positivism seeking meaning in nature is reported to cluster "independent variables and thereby creates disciplines. The method of positivism automatically produce multiple-factor conclusions whatever the disciplinary orientation of the particular positivist using them.

Criminal Prevention and Treatment Program & Social Control Theory

Social control theories emphasis the strategies and techniques that assist in the regulation of human behavior and that result in the "conformity and compliance to the rules of society, including the influences of family, school, morals, values, beliefs, etc.," (Mcgraw-Hill, 2012) It is reported that both "juveniles and adults conform to the law in response to certain controlling forces which are present in their lives. Thus, they are likely to become criminal when the controlling forces in their lives are defective or absent." (Mcgraw-Hill, 2012)

The argument stated by social control theorists is that the "…more involved and committed a person is to conventional activities, the greater the attachment to others (such as family and friends), the less likely that a person is to violate the rules of society." (Mcgraw-Hill, 2012) Social control is reported to have its roots "in the early part of this century in the work of sociologist E.A. Ross." (Mcgraw-Hill, 2012) Belief systems were held by Ross rather than specific laws to be that guiding the actions of individuals and controlling behavior. Social control is held by many to be "…all-encompassing, practically representing any phenomenon leading to conformity, which leads to norms. Others see social control as a broad representation of regulated mechanisms placed upon society's members. In other words, social control regards what is to be considered deviant, violations of the law, right or wrong. Social control mechanisms can be adopted as laws, norms, mores, ethics, etiquette, and customs, which all control and thus define behavior." (Mcgraw-Hill, 2012)

Theoretical Framework

The criminal prevention and treatment plan devised in this study is one that intends to use the principles of social control in assisting individuals who have been convicted of criminal acts to address behavioral changes in an environment characterized by social controls focused on reduction of criminal behavior. Gowan and Whetstone (2012) write "the mandatory, state-subsidized treatment opened up by drug courts and other jail and prison diversion programs have massively expanded the numbers of the nation's poor and working class who are labeled addicts and sent to rehab, making drug rehabilitation a primary site for the re-socialization and control of the poor. Drawing on ethnographic and interview data, this article examines the institutional form at the center of this process: the 'strong-arm' rehabilitation facilities most closely tied to drug courts, probation, and
underline!important;' target='_blank' href='https://www.paperdue.com/topic/parole-essays'>parole. The therapeutic community tradition's long-standing practices of moral reform through intensive behavior modification are now mobilized by the state on a large scale, transformed into a 'fuzzy edge' of the criminal justice system, which resocializes far more intensively than most forms of incarceration. We understand the 'medicalization' represented by strong-arm rehab not as a reprieve from judgment, but instead as a process of translation and amplification. Translated by staff into therapeutic, moral, and finally cultural versions, the biochemical 'diagnosis' of pathology comes to serve as a neutral, medicalized front behind which the systemic injuries of race and class disappear. Instead, the strong-arm process amplifies the taint of addiction into a new biologization of poverty and race." (p.1)

Deviance is stated to be defined as "…behavior that violates the standards of conduct or expectations of a group or society." (Mcgraw-Hill, 2012) While all criminal behavior is considered to be 'deviant' behavior, not all deviant behavior constitutes criminal behavior. The deviant or criminal behavior addressed in this study is behavior that violates tenets of law or that violates societal standards legally speaking.

There are two aspects of social control including the following two stated aspects:

(1) The macrosocial perspective explores formal control systems for the control of groups, including the legal system such as laws, law enforcement, powerful groups in society (who can help influence laws and norms) and economic and social directives of government or private organizations. Such controls can serve to be either positive or negative.

(2) The microsocial perspective focuses on informal control systems, which help to explain why individuals conform. It also considers the source of control to be external, that is, outside of the person. (Mcgraw-Hill, 2012)

It is additionally stated of social control that the methods used to "…encourage conformity and obedience -- and to discourage violation of social norms -- are carried out through informal and formal social control." (Mcgraw-Hill, 2012) Informal social control is used in a casual manner to enforce societal norms and includes such as "smiles, laughter, raising an eyebrow, and ridicule." (Mcgraw-Hill, 2012)

Informal methods of social control are not always enough to enforce conformance of behavior to acceptable societal standards and this results in the use of formal social control on the part of "authorized agents, such as police officers, physicians, school administrators, employers, military officers, and managers of movie theatres. It can serve as a last resort when socialization and informal sanctions do not bring about desired behavior." (Mcgraw-Hill, 2012) It is reported that there is a variation in societies on which behaviors are subject to formal social control and the sanctions used to deal with these matters.

Criminal Behavior Prevention and Treatment

The criminal behavior treatment program developed in this study involves treatment in Northern Alabama for Madison, Morgan, and Limestone counties and is a program that requires criminal offenders who have committed drug crimes to attend several sessions on a weekly basis in various locations. The sessions attended by the offenders are appropriately located in the community in which they reside so as to form the basis of the social control that is believed to be that which will assist the offender in altering their behavior.

The sessions attended by offenders in this study involve open discussion of appropriate and inappropriate behavior in the community and will be accompanied by lectures and films that illustrate the reasons that certain behavior is acceptable and other behavior is not acceptable in the eyes of those who live in the community.

The treatment program will involve the members of the program being required to attend a church of their choice each Sunday in addition to becoming involved in a community organization in the manner of a volunteer. The purpose for these two requirements is based on The knowledge related in the work of Hirschi (1969) that "the more we feel a part of or bonded with society, the more effectively our behavior is controlled, thereby preventing deviant actions." (Mcgraw-Hill, 2012) Bonds are based on four components include those stated as follows:

(1) Attachments -- i.e., affection and respect for others who are conforming to society's norms, who then become our role models;

(2) Commitments -- i.e., not wanting to risk our reputation or a good position in a company or good standing at a university;

(3) Involvements -- i.e., putting time into approved activities such as sports teams or volunteer work, thereby reducing the time to engage in potential deviant actions; and (4) Beliefs -- i.e., holding beliefs that certain behaviors are morally wrong. (Mcgraw-Hill, 2012)

These bonds form the basis for the individual attempting to control or prevent criminal behavior…

Sources Used in Documents:


Deviance and Social Control (nd) McGraw-Hill. Retrieved from: http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/dl/free/0070918082/83003/Chapter7.pdf

Gowan, T. Whetstone, S. Making the criminal addict: Subjectivity and social control in a strong-arm rehab. Punishment and Society. January 2012. Vol 14 No 1. Retrieved from: http://pun.sagepub.com/content/14/1/69.abstract

Farr, Z. (nd) Critically assess the impact of positivist approaches to understanding crime. Retrieved from: http://www.essex.ac.uk/sociology/documents/pdf/ug_journal/vol8/2012sc242_Zoefarr.pdf

Cite This Term Paper:

"Positivist Theory Of Crime Lombroso" (2012, December 14) Retrieved October 26, 2020, from

"Positivist Theory Of Crime Lombroso" 14 December 2012. Web.26 October. 2020. <

"Positivist Theory Of Crime Lombroso", 14 December 2012, Accessed.26 October. 2020,