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Class 7a - The Emergence of Positivism.docx

Course Code
CRM 1301
Carolyn Gordon

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The Emergence of Positivism
Auguste Comte (1798-1857)
Three stages of society‟s evolution:
o The age of the monarchy, religion, ideas explained by God
o The age of reason and law, things begin to be explained with reason.
Classical Criminology
o Move away from asking how and begin to ask why. What are the
underlying causes?
What is Positive Criminology?
Deductive framework
Systematic observation
Accumulation of observable evidence
o Heavy reliance on observation and the scientific method. The positive
school developed in the second half of the nineteenth century, rooted in
the natural sciences, advances in bio, chem. etc. Referring to a method of
analysis that is based on the collection of observable scientific facts
(scientific method). People moved away from classical criminology.
A framework that shares a set of assumptions
Within paradigm have different theories
3 strains
o Biological positivism (genes, born this way), psychological positivism
(subconscious, insanity) and sociological positivism (class inequality,
upbringing within family)
What are the Basic Characteristics of Positivism?
Reliance on the scientific method
o Demand for facts and scientific truth
Focus on actors
o Factors beyond the persons controlled, determined for them.
Hard: the belief that the individual had no choice in a situation
completely at the work of the external forces
Soft: confronted with decision (stealing because they need to feed
children and are poor)
Punishment should fit the individual
Offenders can be „cured‟
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