Compare and Contrast two criminological approaches to understanding the commission of crime

1081 Words Feb 10th, 2014 5 Pages
“Compare and Contrast two criminological approaches to understanding the commission of crime.”

Criminologists seek to understand the commission of crime in a given society, attempting to figure out why certain crimes occur, and then to study how these can be prevented, and deterred by individuals. The two key approaches I will examine in this assignment is that of the early 'Classicalist' approach, and the opposing 'Positivist' approach, each of which are crucial for understanding modern criminology today.
In the late eighteenth century Britain went through an Enlightenment period, which is also referred to as 'The Age of Reason' (Paine, 1794) and this is because reason was emphasised over religion, secularisation transformed
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Bentham then invented his idea of the perfect prison, the panopticon. This was a model prison where all prisoners where observed at all times by unseen guards. The Classicalist approach involves the punishments being 'just' and reasonable, however still being able to deter individuals. This approach has been criticised by numerous theorists for many reasons. To begin with, despite this continuing change of the punishments towards offenders, from the earliest codes of public executions, towards a more subtle reformation and rehabilitation scheme, the 'Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974' mirrors this idea, murder rates have not significantly changed. Also this theory emphasises much on rational thinking and freewill, however it is debated that we do not always behave in our best interest, there are times when individuals are intoxicated by alcohol so are not as conscious of their activities. Moreover, there are crimes which entails the offender gaining no rewards, and also victimless crimes illustrate that not all crimes and punishments are 'just'.
Theorists then sought to figure out another alternative way for understanding the commission of crime, as many began to doubt this theory that crime was a simple characteristic of the human nature. In the nineteenth century the Positivist approach was introduced, which brought a whole new way of thinking about criminals and certain…