Social Constructionism, Positivism and Classicism Essay

1826 Words Mar 28th, 2013 8 Pages
With reference to the materials in Block 1 – and using your own words – compare and contrast: * classicism * positivism * social constructionism

The role of theory in contemporary youth justice practice is crucial in shaping and conceptualising relationships between youth and crime. It provides a structure for how youth justice is practiced and helps make sense of today’s issues surrounding the topic.
Approaches to youth justice have evolved throughout the centuries and it is important for youth justice practitioners to be aware of the evolution of theory in order to be up to date with their knowledge and in their practice. Knowledge of current as well as traditional theoretical perspectives helps provide a new direction on
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In that case, punishment is ineffective and treatment and rehabilitation are what is needed. The issue with positivism is that an assumption is made that only the undersocialised commit crime. However, crime can be committed by individuals from all areas of society. Positivism does not take into account human agency and the creativity that can be found in human beings; it only reduces the crime problem to a simple predictable, set out from the start, destiny.

Despite these flaws, positivism has informed many areas of social policy and dominated the practice of youth justice until the 1960’s/70’s. As previously explained, one of the critiques of positivism is the lack of consideration for individuals creativity and free will in how they lead their lives. The meaning human beings create in the world and the interpretation they make of this world needs to be considered in criminal justice, and it is this need that led to a new school of thought emerging in the 60s/70s: social constructionism (or new deviancy). Social constructionist theorists explain that the reality surrounding all human beings is not pre-determined, but rather socially constructed. By this they mean that the powerful (the media, the police, the courts, etc.) create an illusion of social order by ensuring that the
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