SOCB50H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: Paradigm Shift, Larceny, Homicide
Chapter 5: Biological and Physiological explanations of Deviance
It is difficult to explain some kinds of behaviour, especially gender bending or delusional as they are
based on genetics.
Positivism (scientism): the belief that natural science should be adapted to the study of human being.
They assume that knowledge can be discovered through sensory experience, observation and experiment.
In which experiments undergo a control group, sampling and analysis. When studies took place with
rocks, insects and plants it led to new discovery that would NOT have been discovered through classical
theory : craziness, self-injurious compulsions or extreme impulsiveness.
Classical thinkers never used empirical data in their research before or they never used it as it should have
been constructed. However overtime, with rise to criminology and understanding deviance, they began
adopting a paradigm shift, which gave better understanding of human nature and human behaviour. It
achieved dominant status in the late 19-20th century, when it was challenged with other paradigms. Some
classical thinkers disagree with positivism, vice versa. However, it was believed that there was a
biological explanation for how an individual acted and forced determined their action. Free will was an
5.1: crimes and punishment in Erewhon
Social Darwinism: English philosopher Herbert Spencer coined the phrase “ survival of the fittest ‘’
arguing that every field reflected a pattern of development from lower to higher, less complex to complex
and from inferior to superior. He took from Darwin theory of natural selection stating that the fit
competitor wins the better chance of survival and procreates. Those who believe in social Darwinism,
believe that living organism whether human, plants or animals are best able to adapt in a situation in
which particular set of living conditions were most favourable. Those who were rich and powerful in
society were best fit than compared to those who were not at all. They had the health, intelligence and
good moral qualities to make them fit.
Mendel and the Discovery of Genetic Inheritance: On discovering genetic principles with plant seeds, it
was often mistaken that environment played no role in determining an individual trait. Hitler used the idea
of the unfit to prosecute the Jews and those who he claimed to be unfit.
Born Criminal Theory: idea that criminality was not only marked but also was evident in a person’s
appearance was common in antiquity. Criminal anthropology promised the possibility of using physical
appearance as a way to indentify actual and potential criminals: facial features, skull size and body shape.
Science than scoped in and started looking at genes, blood sugar counts and neurochemical markers.
However, before any of this took place, criminality was looked at through physiognomy, phrenology,
craniometry, atavism and degeneracy.
Physiognomy: science of judging characters based on their feature. If a person looked
like a bull, they would be stubborn. It appealed in the late 18-19 century, when John
Casper Lavater produced a detailed four-volume map of the human face with specific
structures and personality traits.
Phrenology: popular in the mid 19 century, based on the theory that function of
cautiousness, firmness, benevolence, mirthfulness and intellect were located in distinct
parts of the brain and that the stronger their function, the larger the manifestation. It
would appear as a large bump that would be detected. Phrenology compromised of every
explanation, even that of a serial killer. Franz Joseph Gall proposed this theory, which
became a new science. It has now died out and is normally found practised by those
doing fortune telling.
Craniometry: system of classifying human types on the basis of skull measurement,
particular size. It was believed the larger the brain, the larger the brain activity until a
woman found with a large brain had killed her husband and the theory was revised. It is
now believed that whether large or small, it could mean either signs of deviance. This
theory is faced with serious criticism, as it states that a woman brain was relatively closer
to gorilla’s and children than to that of men. In addition, that they excelled in incapacity
to reason, absence of thought etc.
Lombroso’s Criminal Anthropology: 161- 168
* Born Criminal Theory Revisited: Body – type theory developed by Earnest a Hooton and William
Sheldon. They believed that crime and immorality were aspects of physical inheritance.
Hierarchy of Degeneration: Earnest A Hooton described biological components of criminal behaviour as
degeneracy. He concluded that crime was the result o normal environmental stress on low- grade
organism. He conducted a study of 17 000 people (140 000 prisoners), collecting 197 distinct bodily
measurements. Hooton concluded that prisoners were distinctive and inferior, pointing that their tattoo or
sloping foreheads were signs of degeneracy. He divided people according to race that way to see what
crimes would be committed.
- Caucasians’: categorized in 9 groups, found to be easy leaders in forgery and fraud, burglary and larceny
- Blacks: homicide, parsimonious in sex offense and perpetuate, modest amount of robbery
Hooton argued that racial groups although an inferior organism succumbs to the adversities of natural
temptations in their environment and that it are impossible to correct the environment to that point.
Somatotyping: William H. Sheldon mapped out the relationships among human physiques, personality
and criminal propensity. He identified three distinct body parts:
asthentic (frail, weak)
pyknic (short, rotund)
The basic division of somatotyping are:
endomorph (soft, round, easygoing, sociable, self-indulgent)
mesomorph (hard, rectangular, restless, energetic, insensitive)
ectomorph (lean, fragile, introspective, sensitive, nervous)
Twin Adoption Studies: Alcholism, scnizophrenia, alzihmer disease, autism and affective disorders show
concordance amongst indentical twins even when raised apart. Christiansen conducted a study in 1970-
1980 in Denmark with the entire twin population : Danish Twin Register. Sampling criminals and non
criminals (14 344 twins). He found 962 people, involving 799 twin pairs who had records of crime. 35%
of ID twins had a concordance with crime oppose to 13% F twins.
Adoption Studies: 175-185