The Positivist School

The Positivist School - Lombroso thought that he could...

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The Positivist School: Biological Theories of Deviance The positivist school of the second half of the 19th century argues that deviant behavior was dictated by forces beyond the control, or even the awareness, of individuals . Positivists argued that biological abnormalities provided valid explanations for deviance. In essence, genetic predispositions create inborn tendencies to commit deviant acts . According to the positivist philosophers, only through scientific inquiry could one understand the forces that drive society. Cesare Lombroso (1836-1909), a well-known positivist, argued that physical abnormalities that afflict people cause them to pursue deviant (or criminal) activity . Lombroso argued that criminals were throwbacks to some sort of pre-human. Lombroso (in Kendall, 1998:191) called these criminal types Atavists . He claimed that prisoners had "low foreheads and smaller than normal human cranial capacities" (1998:191).
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Unformatted text preview: Lombroso thought that he could predict deviant behavior based on skull and body types. Critique: Biological explanations for deviance are almost useless. There is no consistent evidence that supports the belief that social temperament is related to body type . This approach ignores the interactions of the individual with the environment. Research shows that most people, who have suspect genetic traits, are not deviant. Furthermore, the vast majority of criminals do not have irregular genetic patterns. Example: XXY Perhaps the very fact that people look different than the general population draws attention to those people. When that individual does something deviant, attention is already focused upon that individual. Previous suspicions become justified....
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This note was uploaded on 11/08/2011 for the course SCIE SYG2000 taught by Professor Bernhardt during the Fall '10 term at Broward College.

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