CRIM 210 Chapter Notes -Urban Sociology, Anal Stage, Pauperism
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Chapter 5 - Explaining Crime and Delinquency in the Beginning
•"taken-for-granted understandings" - beliefs accepted as true b/c they are either felt to be true or
commonly shared as being true
◦based on immediate experience; is rarely examined
◦true b/c was subjected to empirical testing - research; knowledge based on observation, exp,
experiment than theory or philosophy
◦research - systematic process of info gatherings, analysis and reporting of finding
•postmodernists -those who reject or challenge all that has been considered modern
•theory - integrated sets of propositions that offer explanations for some phenomenon
THe Scientific Method: Positivism and Criminology
•Auguste Comte - founding father of sociology; applied scientific method
◦assumed human behaviour determined by natural laws
◦positivists - view behaviour determined by factors or factors beyond control of individual
▪an 18th C philo, theore, metho perspective that things only observed via scientific method is
•3 conditions need to be met before causality can be established
◦there is a relationship b/w concepts both within and among propositions that constitute a theory
▪concept - general/abstract term referring to class/group of more specific terms 9eg. crimes refer to
any number of specific behaviours such as assault, robbery)
◦time priority has to be established b/w these concepts; cause has to come before the effect
▪eg. there is a relationship b/w seeing a crime on television and committing a crime ---> "seeing"
preceded the "committing"
◦spuriousness - whether we can be certain there is no other 'causal' factor related to (eg.) watching
television and committing crime
▪eg. factor might be boredom or having a lot of free time - when have a lot of free time, ppl watch a
lot of TV; youth more likely involved in delinquent activities, not necessarily the result of watching
•postmodernists (eg. Donna Gaines, Tricia Rose) reverse the cause-effect chain and maintain these things (eg.
TV, music) are a reflection of hte lived experience of youth, rather than cause of behaviour
Challenges to Positivism
•logic of positivism largely attained via myriad rules and regulations required in research process (eg. test of
significance, sampling theory etc)
◦these methods designed to prevent subjectivity of researching and biasing for fact
◦fact - something considered true; in scifi sense, fact is something established via research
•criminologists moved away from positive thinking or about what causes certain behaviours
◦started asking questions about nature and processes of crime
▪eg asking questions about their experiences - the subjective
▪uses qualitative methods, not quantitative; eg. ethnography, unstructured interview w/ small groups
•subjective (situated, experiential knowledge) is as much as "truth" as that gained via search for objective
•differences: positivst think that bias from "subject" is to be avoided; those of subjective approach argue
'truth' can only come from the "subject"
Nineteenth0Century Theorizing about Crime and Delinquency
•back then, religion was dominant force; used to understand/explain events and behaviours
◦eg. behaviour bad = devil possession
•psychiatry legitimized notion of insanity, used to explain bizarre or criminal behaviours
•classical school of criminology - school of thought that assumes ppl are rational, intelligent beings who
exercise free will in choosing crim. behaviour; must be responsible
•Cesare Beccaria - wrote "On Crimes and Punishments" 1764
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◦argued offenders must be presumed innocent; offences and punishments should be in written code;
guilty ppl deserved to be punished b/c they violated someone else's rights; punishment should fit crime
and offenders must be held responsible
•Jeremy Bentham - argued repeat offenders should be punished more severely, punishment should fit crime
and ppl who commit similar offences should be punished in same manner
•19th C, focuses on biological and physiological factors in search for cause of criminal behaviour
The Born Criminal - bio pos
•Cesare Lombroso, 'father of scientific criminology'
◦wrote "L'uomo delinquente" 1876 - influenced by Darwin
◦was a prison doctor, examined prisoners; argued criminals and non criminals were at different stages of
◦physical features were different...a criminal as an atavistic being w/ ferocious instincts; enormous jaws,
high cheekbones..insensibility to pain, acute sight, tattooing, excessive idleness, love of orgies, craving
▪want to extinguish life in victim, mutilate the corpse, tear its flesh and drink its blood
Types of People
•Richard Dugdale - his study of 709 Jukes family 1888, found number of Jukes had criminal record, worked
at prostitution or were on welfare
◦argued they suffered from " degeneracy and innate depravity"
◦argued pauperism, crime and prostitution were inherited trains
•Henry Goddard - tried to establish connection b/w heredity, crime and feeblemindedness
◦studied the Kallikak family 1912; found two distinct types of ppl
◦one family was prgoeny of 'feebeminded barmaid'
▪full of alcoholics, criminals, mentally deficient
▪feeblemindedness (lack of intelligence) was major factor for criminal behaviour; low IQ made ppl
incapable of understanding immorality of behaviour, less able to control emotion
◦other branch was descended from "respectable girl of good family"
•'tainted life blood' believed to be resp. for drinking, prostitution, feeblemindedness
•3 types of criminal behaviours: delinquent, dependant, defective
◦delinquents - ppl who could change ways if received right guidance
▪not just for youths, for adults as well
◦defectives - have limited abilities, some case of feeblemindedness, thus not held responsible for what
◦dependants - ppl whose well being depended on assistance of others
•eugenics - branch of science based on belief in genetic diff bw/ groups that result in superior, inferior strains
•ppl who were defective, inferior, feebleminded were sterilized to prevent from having children
◦1930 US passed laws for sterilization of feebleminded, mentally ill or epileptic
The "Dangerous Class"
•consisted largue of the poor, who struggled to survive in rapid industrialization and urbanization
•Henry Mayhew said children surrounded by degrading influences, set a bad example by parents..
◦parents were the ones seen as defectives, delinquents or dependants
◦young children "carried to beer shop, gin palace on the breast of worthless, drunken mothers"
20th Century Theories of Delinquency
Biological Positivism - Twins and Adopted Children 1930
•identical twins have higher delinquency rates than fraternal twins
•adopted children more like bio parents than adoptive parents
•problematic b/c of small samples
•Mednick, Gabrielli, Hutchings 1987 looked at records of adopted children in Denmark
◦found crime rates for adopted boys were higher when bio parent had criminal record
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◦crime rates higher for adopted boys than girls
•Gottfredson and Hirschi 1990 - found magnitrude of genetic effect determined by adoption studies is near 0
◦none of these studies isolates or identifies specific genetic factor that is resp. for behav.
◦argue these type of studies remain highly influential in taken-for-granted explanations b/c they provide
strong argument fo inheri. of crim. behav.
•Sheldon's work "Varieites of Delinquent Youth" 1949, argud body' type or 'somatotype" affects his/her
temperament and personality, which leads to delinquency
◦endomorphs - soft and round
◦mesomorphs - muscular and athletic; more prone to delinquency
◦ectomorphs - thin and fragile
•avg ppl have 46 chromo; males with extra Y chromo - the "super male" - used to explain violent criminal
behav., more males in prison have this chromo; not convincing b/c....
•small pop w/ extra Y chromo
•men w/ extra X chromo (Klinefelter syndrome) equals or exceeds that of extra Y chromosomes
•those w/ extra Y chromo least likely group in priison population to have committed violent offence
IQ, LD, ADHD
•lower the IQ, higher the prob of delinq
◦hard to interpret b/c of class/race bias inherent in IQ test
•Learning disabilities (LD) not function of IQ...defined as "disorders affecting acquisition, organization,
retention, understanding of use of verbal/non verbal info"
◦affect learning essential for thinking and reasoning
◦actual cause unknown, but assumed biological
◦relevant to delinq behav. - leads to poor perf. at school, pushes youth out towards similar peers and
◦some sayppl w/ LD unable to understand relationship b/w behav. and punishment
◦NOT same as learning difficulty; its a disability involving learning and though process deficit
•Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) neurological disorder; said to have diff. concentrating,
affecting ability to learn and behaviours
◦those w/ this is 9x more likely to be delinquent
◦number of pschosocial factors reduced likelihood of involvement in delinq for ADHD and LD youth (eg.
relationship w mother, engagement w/ school, feelings of wellbeing etc)
Explaining the "Bio" facts
•poverty may affect both IQ and crim. behav.; but cannot "cause" a person to have lower intelligence quotient
◦puts one at greater risk for crime doe
•earlier bio explanations failed to account environmental impact; some say env + heredity may interact to
produce criminal behav.
•biological influences are limited or minimal
•modern biological theorists say" no specific crim behav. inherited or physiologically preordained, nor is
there single gene that produces criminal acts"
•all behaviour is result of biology interacting w/ social and physical environment
◦behavioural "potentials", "susceptibilities", and "probabilities" than causes
•focus on antisocial characteristics
•stress environmental impacts on formulation of antisocial characteristics
•psychoanalytic theories (Freud), behaviouristic explanations (BF Skinner), social learning theory (Albert
Bandura), moral development theory (Jean Piaget), personality theory and antisocial personality theory
Psychoanalytic theories (Freud and Erikson)
•crime/delinq are symptoms of underlying emotional abnormality or disturbance from childhood
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