Chapter3 notes: PrescientificApproaches to Deviance
Past and present presentations of Deviance
Note: Before the enlightenment people understood life in terms of myths, folklore, parables and
Early Explanations of Deviance: The demonic perspective
• Deviance was deemed to be caused by forces in the supernatural realm.
• The pagan as a deviant: Other religions were demonized by dominant religions.
• Examples of Demonic deviance were temptation and possession.
• The social control of demonic deviance was exorcism.
• The witch craze: The demonic explanation for the witch craze was built on faith
• Modern beliefs about demonic deviance: The modern interpretation of the witchcraft
craze is that the witch as part of demonic conspiracy was a social construct created and
maintained by religious authorities that reflected the common beliefs of the people. The
witch hunt provides a paradigm that can be applied to the Nazi persecution of the Jews ,
the McCarthyite Red Scare in NorthAmerica and the panic over child molesters and
• In modern times demonology is used to explain deviance. This paradigm can be used to
explain more mundane forms of deviance such as drug trafficking when political
authorities demonize those forms of deviance.
Chapter4 notes: Classical theories of deviance and their influence on modern
Rational Calcuation: The Enlightenment
The enlightenment was characterized by a new strictly empirical view of the world. The deviant
was no longer seen as a creature possessed. The deviant was a rational person who made self-
serving choices. Interest in deviance turned from witchcraft to the disruptions of crime.
The five central tenets of the classical view were:
1. People are hedonistic. They seek pleasure (gain) and avoid pain harm) 2. People have free will
3. Society represents a form of social contract where each individual gives up his or her
right to hedonistic pleasure to partake of the greater good provided by social order.
4. Punishment is justified as a means of transforming the hedonistic calculation so that the
performance of duty is more rewarding than following the criminal path. In classical
utilitarian terms punishment is to be severe and predictable that the calculation is changed
and conformity is preferred over time.
5. Reform to the secular world is worthwhile and appropriate since the chief goal is not to
achieve salvation but to reach the utilitarian goal which is the greatest good for the
The two main representatives of the classical school are: Cesare Beccaria and Jermey Bentham.
Neoclassical theory: Three new concepts introduced by the neoclassical theory
1. Mitigating factors: In the classical theory all assaults of a particular degree of
seriousness were treated in the same way. In the neoclassical theory the judge
takes different factors into consideration when punishing a crime.
2. Past record: Every offence was treated the same way under the classical theory
but under the neoclassical theory a repeat offender is punished more severely than
a first time offender.
3. Differences in free will: Considering mental illness which affects a person’s
choice in making right or wrong decisions.
Classical thought: The Modern Legacy
Deterrence theory: Beccaria argued that crime control is a function of certainty, celerity(speed)
and severity of the punishment.
Types of Deterrence
1. Absolute Deterrence: Penalties are sure and soon in coming as well as terrible that no
crime is committed.
2. Relative Deterrence: Penalties are frequent enough and serious enough to encourage
other choices. 3. General Deterrence: We see others caught and as a result we decide that we will not do
what they have done.
4. Specific Deterrence: The actual personal experience of punishment encourages different
5. Restrictive Deterrence: The individual avoids punishable acts selectively or a selective
reduction of offending.
When does deterrence work?
Certainty: Beccaria argued that the certainty of the punishment is more important than the
severity. Certainty can be measured in three main ways: the actual rate of defection and
punishment, the beliefs about the rate of punishment held by the population and the beliefs of
the individuals about their active policing increases the likelihood of apprehension and
punishment, the offences will most likely decline.
Severity: Increasing the severity of punishment may reduce the offence rate as long as the
belief in certainty is maintained.
Celerity: Apunishment or penalty that is made more immediate is expected to be more
effective than one received long after an offence.
Rational choice theory focuses primarily on the way an offender makes a decision to offend.
It is often associated with the policies of situational crime prevention.
Classical theorists focus more on crime than on other forms of deviance and the criminal
justice systems than on informal social controls.
Chapter5: The Biological and physiological explanations of Deviance
Postivism: based on the belief that the method of natural sciences can be used to study human
Conception of deviance: pathology, constitutional inferiority and sickness.
Explanation of deviance: Determinism and symptoms of constitutional faults.
Remedies: Treatment, separation and elimination A) Social Darwinism: Herbet Spencer coined the phrase survival of the fittest to describe the
implications of evolutionary theory for human society.
B) Mendel: Genetic inheritance- the attribution of feeblemindedness, deviance and criminal
behaviour to hereditary.
C) Born Criminal theory:
Physiognomy: the science of judging one’s character on the basis of facial features.
Phrenology: based on the theory that functions such as cautiousness, mirthfulness and
intellect were located in distinct parts of the brain and that the stronger the functions the
larger the physical manifestations.
Craniometry: a system used of classifying human types on the basis of skull measurement
of it’s size.
Lombroso’s criminal anthropology: Central to Lombrosso’s conception of crime was his
theory of biological atavism.According to this theory the criminal was an evolutionary
throwback and a reversion to a more primitive stage in human evolution. Central to
Lombrosso’s conception of crime was his theory of biological atavism.According to his
theory, the criminal was an evolutionary throwback and a reversion to a more primitive
stage in human evolution. Physical characteristics such as sloping foreheads, bushy
eyebrows and protruding cheekbones were evidence of atavism. Different kinds of
criminality were indicated by head, body size, hair color and abnormalities of the nose,
ears, arms and body. Enrico Ferri coined the t