“Compare and contrast the classical school of criminology with the positivist school of criminology. How are they similar, and how do they differ in their perspectives about why people commit crimes and what should be done to prevent/control crime?”
Classical and positivist criminology is the most significant school of thinking on why people commit crimes and how to prevent and regulate them. The classical school believes criminals act out of free choice (Akers, 2013). However, positivists believe biological, psychological, and social factors cause crime (Muncie et al., 2019). The two schools of thinking differ on why people commit crimes and how to prevent and control them. Many criminology theories assume that social and individual factors cause criminal conduct. One theory holds that freedom to act may lead to the incidence of criminal activity (Akers, 2013). Traditional criminologists believe offenders know the consequences of their actions yet commit crimes. Criminal behavior should be punished to deter others. This theory holds that lawbreakers must be aware of the genuine possibility of punishment to modify their behavior.
The positivist school of thought believes that biological, psychological, and social factors motivate criminal behavior (Muncie, et al., 2019). This theory says that environmental factors rather than conscious decisions influence criminal behavior. Positivist criminologists believe studying and controlling criminal behavior can prevent and control crime. These causes may stem from the person’s upbringing, circumstances, or society. Many positivist criminologists believe these attributes can combat crime if the public understands and learns them (Akers, 2013). This theory holds that the only way to design effective prevention measures is to understand the reasons for criminal behavior. This ensures success. Stopping illegal action requires this understanding.
Comparing positivism and classical criminology shows similarities and contrasts in criminal behavior and possible solutions (Akers, 2013). Both schools believe that people are solely responsible for their life choices and must accept the consequences. Unlike the classical school, the positivist school believes that external pressures cause people to commit crimes. The positivist school emphasizes preventative measures based on understanding the fundamental causes of criminal behavior, while the classical school emphasizes fear of punishment to regulate criminal behavior (Muncie et al., 2019). Both schools believe punishment deters crime, but the positivist school emphasizes fear of punishment to control criminal behavior.
In terms of the causes of crime and the steps that should be taken to prevent and control it, the “classical school of criminology and the positivist school of criminology” generally have certain things in common and some differences. Additionally, there are some parallels and differences between the ideas on the causes of crime held by the “classical school of criminology and the positivist school of criminology”. In contrast to the classical school of thought, which argues that people can choose to engage in criminal activities, the positivist school of thought contends that people are forced to commit crimes due to outside forces. Both schools of thought concur that punishment should be used as a form of deterrence; however, the positivist school holds that preventive measures should be developed using an understanding of the underlying causes of criminal behavior, while the classical school holds that criminal behavior should be controlled using fear of punishment. Both schools concur that punishment should be employed as a form of deterrence; however, the positivist school holds that preventative measures should be developed by comprehending the underlying causes of criminal behavior.
Akers, R. L. (2013). Criminological theories: Introduction and evaluation. Routledge.
Muncie, J., & McLaughlin, E. (2019). The Sage dictionary of criminology. The SAGE Dictionary of Criminology, 1-608.