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Biological Explanations of Deviance.docx

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Sociology 2259
Pamela Cushing

Sociology 2259: Biological and Physiological Explanations of Deviance. The emergence of Positivism Objective = Positivism Biological factors determined a person’s behavior There are impulses that are outside of people’s control that can lead to deviant behavior Positivism developed out of the inability of classical thought to explain deviance (Uses natural science to determine human behavior – controlled experiments) ⁃ Yet another paradigm shift from the Classical Era 1800-1900 – Positivism ⁃ Pathology constitutional inferiority, sickness ⁃ Explanation – Biological determinism symptoms of constitutional faults (they denied free will. Criminal behavior was an inborn defect.) ⁃ Remedies – Treatment, separation, elimination Born Criminal Theory ⁃ Emerging: Criminal Anthropology ⁃ Physiognomy: Study of Facial Features (weak chin, shaky eyes) ⁃ Phrenology: mapped the brain – identified areas related to personality and behavior (For example take casts of criminals skulls) ⁃ Craniometry: Classify human types by brain size and skull measurements Lombroso ⁃ Physician in the army ⁃ Postmortem exam – on known criminal ⁃ Focused on biological causes of deviance ⁃ “Biological Atavism” - Criminals were evolutionary throw- backs ⁃ Physical traits to explain deviance – eye brows sloping forehead ⁃ Think of Dale Akiki – he looked different and people thought he was a criminal William Sheldon ⁃ Ectomorph - introverts ⁃ Endomorph – extroverted but more laid back ⁃ Mesomorph – more out going ⁃ Sheldon's work was on juvenile delinquent – predicted people who were mesomorph were more likely to be criminals -Failed to take into consideration, social, economical, and environmental factors ⁃ Lawyers today still kind of use similar theories – people who have poor diets make poor decisions Social Darwinism ⁃ Herbert Spencer: Applied the concept of evolution to an understanding of history and societies. ⁃ Societies evolve over time – from primitive to civilized (in terms of intelligence, morals, health) ⁃ Theory helped to justify colonization – European helping the primitive societies ⁃ The Criminal, the poor, the mentally ill, the less intelligent, those with low morals... would die out. Led to policies to make that happen – think eugenics Genetic Inheritance ⁃ Gregor Mendal – studied flowers and plants. Predictable mutations in plants. This had a huge impact on the study of deviance in humans. People believed deviance was inherited ⁃ If it is inherited it is therefore inevitable ⁃ Not only was it assumed that the fittest would survive but the determining factor in who was fit was genetically predetermined ⁃ Studied degenerate families – to prove it was genetic ⁃ Policies to eliminate inferior people Eugenics and theories of deviance Eugenics (Good Birth) ⁃ Made popular by social Darwinism ⁃ More micro because it looks at specific groups in society (social Darwinism looks just at society's evolution) ⁃ Some social groups are more evolved than, and therefore biologically superior to, other groups ⁃ Associated with Nazi Germany, however a lot of governments had these programs ⁃ Result: programs and policies to increase reproduction in “superior” groups and decrease reproduction in “inferior” groups ⁃ Universities and Churches taught Eugenic id
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