The issue raised by this question can be understood as factors which distinguish and contrast these two criminological theories; positivism and classicism are two distinguish theories they are referred to as schools of thought, the classical school and the other one being the positive school. These specific theories look into areas such as; human nature, the justice system, treatment, sentencing and punishment. They go into great depths to justify their arguments and explain why social disorder occurs.
This assignment will begin firstly by explaining what the theories are and how they came into existence and most importantly what factors distinguish one from another. I will explaining what the positive theory is and then list all the major point of the school, also explaining what classical theory is and list all major points of the school. After it has been explained what the two theories are I will be comparing them to find elements that distinguish them and finally conclude with an overall summary within the conclusion.
Within the criminology frame work, positive theory can be defined as: A crucial element of the predestined actor model that proposes that human behaviour is determined by factors, these factors can be stated as either an internal issue, such as, in the case of biological and psychological positivism or more however as an external factor, for instance; as in the case of sociological positivism, that are outside the control of the person. (Hopkins, B. 2001, p272) Many would consider positivism came into existence due to the limitation of classicism (lecture 3 handout).
One major aspect of positivists is that it rejects the classicist idea that people are autonomous subject, rather so they view human nature as determined product of environment or biology (lecture 3 handout). The Positivist approach the study of crime looking at it from a scientific perspective, they consider that science offers a more productive way of regulating deviant individuals or groups through connecting and combining power with knowledge in innovative ways in order to rectify individuals who depart from established norms (lecture 3 handout).
The beginning of criminological positivism can be traced back to three main Italian thinkers, C. Lombroso, E. Ferri, R. Garofalo, (cited in P. Williams and M. Mc Shane 1991, p35). C. Lombroso held a theory that criminal anthropology was the key to identifying criminals because criminals have different genetic/ biological structure to normal people, he says that criminality is associated with atavism (Lombroso (1876) cited in lecture 3 handout).
The scientific methods that positivist use to study crime can be stated as; firstly Case studies and experiments involving segregation and surveillance of deviants. Their examination and classification. Secondly Surveys and questionnaires are also developed to study crime patterns in society. (Lecture 3 handout). Accordingly to P. Williams and M. Mc Shane (1991, p41) all the major points of the school are; Humans live in a world in which cause and effect operate. Attributes of that world exhibits order and can be uncovered though systematic observation.
Crime can be remedied by means of systematic study of human behaviour. Via the application of science human existence is perfected or at least made better. Criminal behaviour is a product of abnormalities, Abnormalities features can be found when comparison with norm, Abnormalities should be treated and criminals reformed, Treatment is both for the individual, so he may become normal and for the society, so that members of society are protected from harm. The purpose of sanctions against criminals is not to punish but to provide treatment.
I have covered positivist theory and now I will explain the classicalist theory. Classical criminology can be defined as: the foundations of the rational actor model of explaining criminal behaviour-people are rational human beings who choose to commit criminal behaviour and can be dissuaded from doing so by the treat of punishment (Burke Hopkins 2001:p270). Classical criminology emerged in the 18th century the name deprives from the entire period of time ‘classical period’.
Classicalist view humans as autonomous and have rational choice to make decisions, classicalism initial was not concern with studying the criminal behaviour but its focus was on lawmaking and legal processing (P. Williams and M. Mc Shane (1991, p14) . Two famous classicalist writers Ceasre Beccaria (1738-1794) and Jeremy Bantham (1748-1832) proposed in their works that both law and administration of justice should be based on rationality and human rights. Classicalist school views human as free-willed, rational beings, utilitarian.