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What is positivism in Criminology?


Prabha Yadev

Life is but a walking shadow

Ever wondered what forces a person to take the wrong path and commit crimes? Is it only an outcome of tremendous stress because of a hectic surrounding or because of any other biological factors?

Positivism in Criminology identifies and performs research on various factors like psychological factors, biological factors, environmental factors, etc. which are responsible for driving a person to commit a crime. 

The base idea of positivist criminology is that criminals are born and not trained. In simple words, criminals are the product of nature and not nurture.  But modern positivist criminology focuses equally on the psychological factors as well as the environmental factors, along with the biological factors.

Positivist Criminology is mainly of two types;

  • Individual Positivism
    Individual Positivism focuses a studying the various biological, psychological, and environmental factors in an individual, which are responsible for transforming a normal human into a criminal.

    Individual Positivism strongly believes that crime committed by an individual is due to individual pathology, and is a reflection of psychiatric, biological, personality, or due to lack of proper learning. Individual behavior is shaped mainly by genetic personality or constitutional factors. Individual Positivism strongly believes that the nature of crimes on an individual level varies greatly with temperament, age, personality, or level of adequate knowledge.

    Individual Positivism claims that the conditions of the criminals on an individual level can be cured with medicine, resocialization, and the use of therapies.

  • Sociological Positivism

    Sociological Positivism has various biological, psychological, and environmental factors in a society, which are responsible for various crimes. It focuses on identifying the differences of the criminals from the normal people, of a particular society.

    Sociological Positivism strongly believes that the crimes are a result of political, economic, social dysfunctions in society and varies from religion to religion as well.

    Sociological Positivism claims that crimes in a society can be brought to a controllable level by social reforms, but cannot be eliminated completely.

All the theories claimed by positivist criminology are not abstract and meaningless; they are based on scientific research made on different subjects by analyzing different factors. It emphasizes on the factors responsible for creating the criminals, rather than just the laws and the criminal justice system.

The ultimate goal of the positivist criminology is the eradication of criminals completely from the source, to ensure a healthy and crime-free society.

Read More:  What can you do with a criminology degree?

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