Guide Eros: Sinful Expressions of a Deviant

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The law provides a rough moral yardstick, the statistics representing the willingness of individuals to admit to an act retrospectively, or the extent to which police officers are willing and able to arrest offenders whom they encounter in the course of their work. In this perspective, the stress is on the seriousness with which lawbreaking is viewed, whether by the agency of social control the policeman or by the respondent in a self-report study. It is assumed that there is no great disagreement on the morality of law itself.

The predicament which arises in this perspective is that crime, thus defined or quantified, is found to be well-nigh ubiquitous. It is found to occur in all sections of society—amongst the rich and the poor, the young and the old—amongst men and women—and always in greater amounts and in different proportions than was previously assumed cf.

Gold, Criminological theory, however, has largely worked on the assumption that crime is an overwhelmingly youthful, masculine, working-class activity. Radical positivists—confronting the altogether different picture of criminality arrived at by their own techniques—conclude, not that there is a greater spread and variety of rationality in the society at large some of which is rational lawbreaking than was previously allowed, but that the effectiveness of social control throughout the society is not all that it has been assumed to be.

The police, the social workers and the judiciary are, by implication, accused of exercising non-scientific criteria in the decisions they have made about the disposition of rule-breaking individuals. Radical positivism, therefore, is concerned with the operationalization and the enforcement, via the techniques of positive science, of the moral consensus embodied in the body of criminal law. Paul Tappan , p. They consider the dynamic and relativistic nature of law to be a barrier to the growth of a scientific system of hypotheses possessing universal validity. The radical positivist has three major points of departure from which to evolve a moral calculus autonomous of the law.

The early Italian positivist Raffaele Garofalo — was the first to evolve a sophisticated definition of natural crime , pp. Moreover, the injury must wound these sentiments not in their superior and finer degrees, but in the average measure in which they are possessed by a community—a measure which is indispensable for the adaption of the individual to society.

Given such a violation of either of these sentiments, and we have what may properly be called natural crime. The basic moral sensibilities appear in a more or less advanced form in all societies and are seen by Garofalo to be essential to the coexistence of individuals in society Allen, , p. Natural crime is a product, therefore, of the average moral sense in the community in question. These sentiments are seen as performing essential functions in maintaining the existing moral consensus, and thus to find a place in the values protected by law.

The parallel with classicist conceptions of law is apparent. Here, too, a consensus is posited: a consensus founded on fear of the Hobbesian war of all against all and a law which enshrines the necessary functional arrangements to prevent such an eventuality. Here too, a priori assumptions are made about human nature: the morally right choice is also a choice that is functional for the society itself. A tautologous picture of human nature and social order is erected, a picture which has the happy feature of leaving the specifics of social order the existence of inequality in the ownership of wealth and property unquestioned.

Classicism and positivism have in common what they ignore, rather than what they include. In the classical picture of man and society, the social order is willed: the rational man makes a choice to uphold the given distribution of property. In Garofalo, on the other hand, the moral sentiments, performing the functions they do for a propertied society, are underlying constants. Human nature is not only a constant as it is in classical accounts ; it is also determined.

It was the determined nature of moral sentiment, in Garofalo, that foreshortened the range of human choice. Gabriel Tarde, a positivist himself, was later , p. The positivists who postulated fundamental tendencies in human nature attempted—rather like the ethnomethodological writers of our own time10—to argue that one could discover a variable but identifiable consensus of meanings and morals, which would in turn serve as the elusive yardstick for positive action. Thus, Thorstein Sellin a, p. Conduct norms are, therefore, found wherever social groups are found, i.

They are not the creation of any ONE normative group: they are not confined within political boundaries; they are not necessarily embodied in law. These facts lead to the inescapable conclusion that the study of conduct norms would afford a sounder basis for the development of scientific categories than a study of crimes as defined in the criminal law. Such study would involve the isolation and classification of norms into universal categories transcending political and other boundaries, a necessity imposed by the logic of science.

The study of how conduct norms develop, how they are related to each other and to other cultural elements, the study of changes and differentials in norm violations and the relationship of such violations to other cultural phenomena, are certainly questions which the sociologist by training and interest might regard as falling within his field. In this fashion the social scientist can focus on the empirical variation of norms in a given social group and still be able to generalize about deviancy as a whole.

Thus, statistics come to be related to conduct norms, rather than to legal criteria. The problem here, however, is that any such investigation of conduct norms would almost certainly confront important dissensions within the social groups under investigation. There would be a plurality of definitions and therefore of statistics available to the commentator and he would have to make his choice, unaided by a priori notions of deviancy.

The final appeal to non-legal criteria is to the needs of the society— the system—itself. By definition, this has been the resort largely of sociologists working within the positivist tradition, and is most notable in the work of the so-called structural-functionalist school of American sociology. The fundamental premises here is that values, norms and morality are unproblematic—they are given by the system. The deviant is not a person with an alternative or authentic morality or rationality— he is an undersocialized individual, who, for a variety of reasons, has not suffiiently internalized the appropriate i.

As John Horton has noted , p. The question of whose values, and why, goes unanswered. Actually, of course, as Melvin Tumin has shown, this particular path to positive neutrality is strewn with many a problem. Even if one were to accept, with the functionalists, that it is possible to specify the needs of the system in value-neutral fashion, there would still be a problem in deciding on how to weight, and on how to characterize as functional or dysfunctional particular social behaviours within that system.

On the net balance, are they supportive or destructive of that system, and which system? And how could one test the truth of any such claim? And there are no rules to determine which is the better or more correct method of toting up the diverse effects. Scientific neutrality The search for a vantage point from which the social world can be measured and assessed without prejudice or bias is closely bound up with the demand for objectivity in positivist thought.

Here, once again, two strands in positivism can be detected: a liberal and a radical version. The liberal version solves the problems of objectivity by denying that questions of value are the concern of the scientist. The politicians who are democratically elected, and, therefore, represent the consensus decide on the central problems that face a society and the major aims of political and social legislation. The scientist is exclusively concerned with the means whereby certain ends given politically—by political man may be achieved.

In this version the positive scientist, the willing handmaiden of the status quo, is very much a caricature of the noble scientist of society envisaged by the founder of the positive tradition itself. He argues that the scientist exists apart from, and independently of, sectarian interests and value preferences.

Although he may have his personal values as citizen, his major task as a scientist is to discover the true consensus. This true consensus is of course to be found in the needs of the system: the advance of society is the advance of men towards harmony within a civilized and balanced society.


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Standing in the way of this harmony and consensus, however, are the capricious and unscientific value-laden activities of the agencies of social control in particular, in criminological polemics, the judiciary on the one hand, and the disruptive and asocial activities of the criminal on the other. The radical positivist locates his objectivity in the interests of the people as a whole—against the criminal and judicial minorities.

Every act can therefore be assigned an objective and ultimately a measurable significance e. The positivist in general, therefore, has a world view of a society consisting, in the main, of normal people, who represent the consensus.

by Christine Crowle

He places himself with democratic finesse squarely in the middle of this consensus. Deviants he perceives as a small minority existing at the margins of society; and powerful non-scientists he sees also as a minor problem temporarily obstructing the advance of positive science. Vested interests of power and wealth do not represent the collectivity: this is a position he reserves for himself.

Social reaction against the deviant is only a problem in so far as the police and judiciary are inefficient or prejudiced in their task of representing the collectivity at large. Social reaction plays no important part in the explanation of deviance, since, by definition, deviants are under-socialized or pathological individuals unable to take their place in the central arenas of a healthy society.

Deviance is by definition that which is reacted against—by, and on behalf of, the majority of rightminded men. The liberal positivist, indeed, could never take any other position: for to question the jurisdiction and the consequences of law would be to vacate the role of scientist for that of political man. The radical positivist, on the other hand, could criticize the law tangentially for its failure to represent the consensus or for its failure to implement its punishment in an equitable fashion.

But he will still see the social reaction against deviancy and criminality as being essentially non-problematic. The most celebrated and thus the most explicit assumption of positive criminology is the primacy of the criminal actor rather than the criminal law as the major point of departure in the construction of etiological theories. The explanation of crime, according to the positive school, may be found in the motivational and behavioral systems of criminals.

Among these systems, the law and its administration is deemed secondary or irrelevant. This quest for explanation in the character and background of offenders has characterized all modern criminology, irrespective of the particular causal factors espoused. What is ignored is the problem of what is really objectively going on in those heads and the way what is going on there is a reflection of the oppressions of state and the law, the facts of social inequality, and the structures of outside society in general.

The determinism of behaviour For deviancy to be dealt with scientifically, it must be seen as being subject to discoverable causal laws. Ferri b, p. For us, the experimental i.

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For us science requires spending a long time in examining the facts one by one, evaluating them, reducing them to a common denominator, extracting the central idea from them. For them a syllogism or an anecdote suffices to demolish a myriad of facts gathered through years of observation and analysis; for us the reverse is true. Where the classicist—as armchair scholar—adjudged the criminality of particular acts in terms of his view of the moral calculus implicit in the social contract, assuming that the criminal thus adjudged was necessarily either wicked or ignorant; the positivist asserted that the criminal automatically revealed himself by his actions and that the criminal was propelled by forces of which he was himself unaware.

There was no responsibility to judge, or, therefore, to investigate questions of motivation. Unlike the classicists who endowed the actor with considerable knowledge of his action, the positivists were concerned, as Durkheim put it, that social life should be explained, not by the notions of those who participate in it, but by more profound causes which are unperceived by consciousness. The classicist and the positivist were both concerned, however, with their own position as expert, over and above the actor himself.

The classicist judged the morality of an act which itself was seen to be freely made whilst the positivist explained the causes of the action to the actor himself, arguing that he was unconcerned with questions of morality. Ultimately, the positivist school, following the logic of its own position, called for the abolition of the jury system and its replacement by a team of experts well-versed in the science of human behaviour. Experts were necessary to investigate the causes propelling the individual into crime, diagnosing him and prescribing an appropriate therapeutic regime.

An assault was also made on the sentencing policy implicit in classicism: the notion of the fixed sentence proportional to the consequences of the criminal action. Above all, the positivists advocated the abolition of specifically penal measures: it made no sense to inflict punishment on the criminal if he had no choice in the question of his own reformation. It is, of course, at this point that thoroughgoing positivism clashes with the ideology of classical law, and the institutions it has spawned.

The acceptance of positivism would considerably undermine the judiciary. This clash would be muted only by the ideological assumptions held in common: the primacy of the actor rather than the criminal law or the structure of state behind it as the focus for criminology. The positivist attempts the scientific explanation of crime by social action as having the qualities no more and no less of things—or objects in the natural world. With this in mind he denudes action of meaning, or moral choice and of creativity. This, then, is at the centre of the positivist hopes for a science of a crime and it is in this respect that its theoretical approach stands or falls.

Thus, from the initial three premises of the scientific method— measurement quantification , objectivity neutrality , and causality determinism —are derived a number of postulates: a consensus view of the world, a focus on the criminal actor rather than the criminal act, a reification of the social world, a doctrine of non-responsibility for actions, the inapplicability of punishment, and a faith in the superior cognitive ability of the scientific expert.

These postulates present positivism with a series of problems, some of which it was well capable of solving; others which emerge as crucial stumbling blocks in the development of positivist theory and practice. Problem of therapeutic nihilism If the criminal is denied freedom and is seen inevitably to engage in criminal behaviour, then it can be argued that therapy is by definition impossible. A modern positivist, Hans Eysenck , p. Because we know that conduct is determined, we are enabled to study scientifically the mechanisms by which it is determined, and thus develop appropriate ways of changing it.

The prime task of positivism, after all, is the elimination of crime—it does not therefore see the deviant as possessed of an incorrigible essence. It may, however, be that, scientific knowledge is insufficient at the moment to solve the problem of successful therapy. This explains the pessimism of early positivists such as Lombroso , p. An embarrassment of riches Positive criminology accounts for too much delinquency. Taken at their terms, delinquency theories seem to predicate far more delinquency than actually occurs.

If delinquents were in fact radically differentiated from the rest of conventional youth in that their unseemly behaviour was constrained through compulsion or commitment, then involvement in delinquency would be more permanent and less transient, more pervasive and less intermittent than is apparently the case. Theories of delinquency yield an embarrassment of riches which seemingly go unmatched in the real world. Matza, , pp.

This conception too has persistently shaped the positivist image of delinquency. Differentiation is the favoured method of positivist explanation. Each school of positive criminology has pursued its own theory of differentiation between conventional and criminal persons. Each in turn has regularly tended to exaggerate these differences.

At its inception positive criminology revolted against the assumption of the general similarity between criminal and conventional persons implicit in classical theory. From the born criminal to differential association, the explanation of delinquency has rested in the radically different circumstances experienced by delinquent and law-abiding alike.

Each is constrained, but by a fundamentally different set of circumstances. This conception of positivism is a fallacy. It is based on popularized versions of scientific criminology for reasons we shall investigate in chapter 2 , not on thoroughgoing positivism itself. Indeed precisely such an accusation could be levelled at popularized conceptions of classicist theory 14—against which, as David Matza has correctly indicated, positivist theory emerged as a critique.

For the essence of positivism is a quantitative, scientific approach to its subject matter. It does not envisage the world in terms of dualities but in terms of continuity. Thus, just as there are not merely tall and short people and nobody in between, there is no conception of the essentially criminal and non-criminal but rather an estimation of degrees of criminality or non-criminality. As Eysenck , p. We may artificially say that every person either is or is not a criminal, but this would be so grossly over-simplified as to be untrue.

Criminals vary among themselves, from those who fall once and never again, to those who spend most of their life in prison. Similarly, people who are not convicted of crimes may also differ widely in respect to moral character. Some may in fact have committed crimes for which they were never caught or, if they were caught, perhaps the court took a rather lenient view.

Others have never given way to temptation at all. From a rational point of view, therefore, we cannot regard criminals as being completely distinct from the rest of the population. They simply represent the extreme end of a continuous distribution, very much as a mental defective represents the extreme end of a continuous distribution of intelligence, ranging upward, through the average to the very high I. In this kind of positivist perspective, the person who commits a crime may well be merely a fraction to the criminal side of the continuum. His future behaviour is therefore not necessarily likely to be consistently criminal—especially if some therapy has been attempted.

The embarrassment of riches is only a problem for a few positivists— sophisticated positivism, by its very nature, has little trouble in circumnavigating it. The concern is to induce from the facts in a dispassionate manner, the laws of the social universe. As Thomas Kuhn , p. We both emphasize, for example, the intimate and inevitable entanglement of scientific observation with scientific theory: we are correspondingly sceptical of efforts to produce any neutral observation language. Taylor and Walton, and of the willingness of those without such power to accept the given definitions. In such a situation, alternative or deviant realities are not factual at all—they belong to the realm of the meaningless, the anomic, the disorganized, the irrational, and, in the final analysis, often to the criminal.

But you call Cecil Rhodes a philanthropist because what he did was that after he stole our diamonds and our gold, he gave us some crumbs so that we can go to school and become just like you. And that was called philanthropy. As Richard Lichtman argues , pp. An indefinitely large number. What is it that I do when I lecture? Amuse students, undermine the university, rationalize the pretended liberality of American society, satisfy parental expectations, earn a living, remove my efforts from an indefinitely large number of alternatives, etc.?

The list is endless. The same situation holds for any action. Why does one conception come to dominate the social perspective of the agents in a given community? How is the meaningful interpretation of action constituted? The channelling of interpreted meaning is class structured. It is formed through lived engagement in the predominant class-controlled institutions of the society. What of the character of those institutions which more specifically pattern the development of socially shared meaning…mass media, schools, etc.? The definition of activity, the shared description of an act and the very meaning of the function of acting, are largely shaped through the nature of productive power.

The great task of disconnection—it was arduous and time-consuming—fell to the positive school of criminology. Among their most notable accomplishments, the criminological positivists succeeded in what would seem impossible. They separated the study of crime from the workings and theory of the state. That done, and the lesson extended to deviation generally, the agenda for research and scholarship for the next half-century was relatively clear, especially with regard to what would not be studied. Scientists of various persuasion thereafter wandered aimfully, leaving just a few possibilities uncovered, considering how deviation was produced.

Throughout, a main producer remained obscure, offstage due to the fortunate manner in which fields of enquiry were divided The role of the sovereign, and by extension, instituted authority was hardly considered in the study of deviant behaviour. That lofty subject, unrelated to so seamy a matter as deviation, was to be studied in political science. There, as in the curriculum in government or political sociology, Leviathan had little bearing on ordinary criminals.

And in criminology, the process of becoming an ordinary criminal was unrelated to the workings of the state. It was, it must be granted, a pretty neat division Matza, a, pp. Ignoring these elements in a fully social theory of deviance, positivism lacks both scope and symmetry.

It suffers in symmetry in that it divides up the social world into two totally disparate theories of human behaviour. Contemporary positivism, like the positivist traditions before it, remains, in the final analysis, an assertion about the determinate nature of deviancy.

Social reaction against deviancy, however much it is seen to vary historically and culturally, remains at the level of an uninvestigated mysterious automatic response. This conception of the role of a science of society relates to the final problem area, namely that of creativity. The problem of creativity Matza a, pp. Capable of creating and assigning meaning, able to contemplate his surroundings and even his own condition, given to anticipation, planning and projecting man—the subject—stands in a different and more complex relation to circumstance.

This distinctively human capacity in no way denies that human existence frequently displays itself in ways characteristic of lower levels. Frequently man is wholly adaptable, as if he were just organic being. And sometimes though very rarely, he is wholly reactive, as if a mere object. But mere reactivity or adaptation should not be confused with the distinctively human condition. They are better seen as an alienation or exhaustion of that condition.

A subject actively addresses or encounters his circumstance; accordingly, his distinctive capacity is to reshape, strive toward creating, and actually transcend circumstance. Such a distinctly human project is not always feasible, but the capacity always exists. How do we explain the existing modes of arrangements themselves? Can we explain the new except as a necessary, natural evolution— predicated by the old social arrangements themselves?

Can explanations of this kind exhaust and even describe the range of human creativity and social change? We shall attempt, as the argument in this book evolves, to show that a fully social theory of deviance would be rather more demanding and comprehensive an explanation than that which is required in positivism. In the next chapter, however, we turn our attention to the specific attempts of biological and pyschological varieties of positivism to explain and eradicate deviancy.

We wish to remove ourselves from that comfortable school of thought which believes that theories compete with each other in some scholarly limbo, heuristic facility being the only test of survival. We need to explain why certain theories, despite their manifest inability to come to terms with their subject-matter, survive—and indeed, as in the case of positivism, flourish. In the last chapter we criticized the capacity of positivism to explain deviancy. In this chapter we will, first of all, discuss the appeal of positivism.

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What benefits does this manner of viewing the social universe have as an ideology for protecting the interests inherent in the status quo and distorting the information perceived by its adherents? We intend, therefore, to elucidate the ideological strengths of the central aspects of positivist thought. The consensus world view To insist that there is a consensus in society obviates all discussion of the possibility of fundamental conflicts of value and interest.

There is only one reality and deviancy is envisaged as a lack of socialization into it. It is a meaningless phenomenon, the only proper response to which can be therapeutic. In one stroke, ethical questions concerning the present order and the reaction against the deviant are removed, for the humanitarian task of the expert becomes that of bringing the miscreant back into the consensual fold.

Similarly, the deviant does not choose an alternative mode of life: he is propelled by factors beyond his control. The possible attractiveness of deviant realities is thus subtly defused: for no one could possibly freely choose them. The inevitable deduction from this, that punishment is inappropriate, merely serves to fill the positivist with the sense of his own rationality and humanitarianism.

The science of society The evocation of natural science presents the positivist with a powerful mode of argument.

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For the system of thought which produces miracles of technology and medicine is a prestigious banner under which to fight. Thus Eysenck counters criticisms that his behaviourist techniques smack of brainwashing, in the following fashion , p. And where there is 1 a recognised social need, and 2 a recognised body of scientific knowledge which looks likely to be able to create a technology to cope with that need, it needs little in the way of precognitive ability to forecast that in the course society will use this knowledge and create this technology. The meshing of interests All three of these strands: consensus, determinism and scientism, give weight to positivist rhetoric.

What is necessary, at this juncture, is to explain why this mode of thought is taken up by the positivist and how the interests of the practitioner and the politician mesh together. It is important, at the outset, to realize that at the simplest level the positivist, by placing himself in the middle of the posited consensus, defends the reality of his own world. For example, Dr R. It is a simple translation to interpret hedonistic and expressive subcultures as not cultures at all but merely as aggregates of inadequate individuals who are excitable, have a low tolerance of frustration, maturity, etc.

By making statements about the deviant he is, inevitably, making valuations about his own world. Further, the social universe of the expert, like so many others in a complex industrial society, is extremely segregated. He is, therefore, blinkered from receiving information at odds with his world view. As one of the present authors put it Young, b, pp. In this process, utilising the theoretical ploys listed, they circumscribe and negate the reality of values different from their own.

They do not explain, they merely explain away. They are well-trained men, but the rigour of their training has enabled them to view the world only from the narrow-blinkered perspective of their own discipline. The fragmentation of knowledge concomitant with specialisation has encouraged the strict compartmentalisation of analysis…. As a result such experts can, from the vantage of their cloistered chauvinism, scarcely grasp the totality of the social world even in terms of their own values let alone take a critical stance outside of these values.

We are producing what Lucien Goldmann has described as the specialist who is simultaneously illiterate and a graduate of a university. The emergence of large-scale bureaucracies in every sphere of social activity has given rise to the demand for co-ordination and predictability within enterprises and the precise determination of consumer and public responses.

At the same time the emergence of alternative realities outside of the official consensus must be defused of their potential to deny consciously, or unconsciously, the ends of the system they threaten to disrupt. Hans Eysenck recognizes this well, for in an article urging the greater need for social conditioning , p. It is hardly necessary to belabour the main point here made; it is too obvious to require much documentation. The problem to be discussed is: how can we engineer a social consent which will make people behave in a socially adapted, law-abiding fashion, which will not lead to a break-down of the intricately interwoven fabric of social life?

Clearly we are failing to do this: the ever-increasing number of unofficial strikes, the ever-increasing statistics of crime of all sorts, the general alienation on which so many writers have commented are voluble witnesses to this statement. The psychologist would answer that what was clearly required was a technology of consent—that is, a generally applicable method of inculcating suitable habits of socialised conduct into the citizens and particularly the future citizens of the country in question—or preferably the whole world.

Thus Jack Douglas b, p. If he chooses to practise the willing suspension of disbelief—to have faith—in the specific theories of this positivistic social science, it also provides him with specific explanations of behaviour which, in combination with deterministic metaphysics, give him a belief that he can control the public responses which will be used to judge his own adequacy as an official. At the same time, use of the positivistic social sciences, which always make maximum use of the very prestigious mathematical forms of the natural sciences, provides the official with the very powerful rhetoric of science in justifying his complex ways to the suspicious public.

The expertise of the positivist comes to be used as scientific justification for political and commercial action and he himself, in line with his own edicts, is bereft of any role in questioning the aims of such activities Douglas, b, p. Because of this, it is actually the metaphysics of everyday life or practical affairs which determines most of the impact of the social sciences on everyday life.

In other words, during the course of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, positivism has become institutionalized. Alex Comfort has pointed out how the growth of the medical profession has been accompanied by intervention in moral and personal spheres which are beyond the jurisdiction of the medical practitioner. Wright Mills has shown how the growth of the social work profession, sustained and infused with the terminology of psychoanalysis and other deterministic ideologies, has resulted in the translation of public issues into private problems.

It is of no small significance that psychoanalysis, one of the major ideologies of an institutionalized positivism, was produced as a direct outgrowth of the medical profession, specifically as a result of the dissatisfaction of thinkers trained in the medical tradition like Freud himself : since psychoanalysis, for all that it is a break with simple medical thought, remains impregnated with biological and physiological assumptions.

He believed, for instance, that schizophrenia was genetically determined; whilst even the more radical Reich, who combined his medical and psychoanalytical training with some grounding in a Marxist humanism, refused to treat homosexuals on similar grounds. Taylor and Walton, In this his interests are well served, for, as Dennis Chapman astutely notes , p. Rather, it is used to back up arguments and proposals, it is selected for quotation at the appropriate, strategic time and place.

More importantly, from the perspective of those in control, it is in contradiction with democratic ideology—given its implicit assumptions of moral choice, free selection of employment and rational voting for political candidates, etc. As we shall see later, it tends to obliterate the distinction between what is behavioural norms and what should be prescriptive norms.

But the individual is not accountable for his actions and he is not likely on his own accord to change his behaviour without parallel change in significant determining factors environmental or genetic. The resolution of the conflict between free will and determinism is achieved by the adoption of what we have termed neo-classicism. Namely, a qualitative distinction is made between the majority who are seen as capable of free choice and the minority of deviants who are determined.

We wish to turn, now, to the evolution of positivism and to the reasons for the emergence and continuing appeal of biological positivism in particular. The first attempts to tackle the problem of crime scientifically were social rather than biological. Laws are not made for men in the abstract, for humanity in general, but for real men, placed in precisely determined circumstances. Quetelet a Belgian mathematician of wide intellectual concerns and Guerry a French lawyer working independently, but almost simultaneously, had drawn very similar conclusions from the publication from onwards, of the first sets of national criminal statistics in France.

As the figures continued to be published, on an annual basis, it became more and more clear to Quetelet and Guerry, first, that the annual totals of recorded crime remained extra-ordinarily constant, and, second, that the contribution of the various types of crime to the annual total fluctuated hardly at all. There was, then, some fundamental feature of the existing social arrangements that gave rise to regular outcomes; so that it must be possible, theoretically, to specify the causes with a view to eliminating the outcome.

In this respect, they have been said to have provided the groundwork for the much more thoroughgoing revolution in theory undertaken by Emile Durkheim some few years later. Morris, , ch. For the next half-century, the analysis of crime was in a sociological vein, ranging from the work of Mayhew to Bonger3 and the audience was concerned with reform.


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As Lindesmith and Levin , p. Indeed Terence Morris , p. The genetic theories of crime which have been subsequently replaced by psychological theories of crimes seem to have excited so much interest that sociological theories, particularly in Europe, have been of secondary importance. What caused this phenomenon? Lindesmith and Levin note how the genetic theories of Lombroso fitted in well with the rise of Darwinism. The Origin of the Species had been published in and Darwinian concepts had been applied in a wholesale manner throughout the social sciences.

But, fundamentally, it involved the movement of the medical man into the field of crime with the corresponding ousting of the sociologically inclined Lindesmith and Levin, , pp. Medical men compiled medical bibliographies and traced the history of criminology as a branch of medicine through the works of Gall, Lavater, Pinel, Morel, Esquirol, Maudsley, etc. Sociologists have uncritically accepted this medical conception of the history of criminology, and they too have ignored the older sociological tradition of Guerry and Quetelet.

This would seem to be an accurate appraisal of events with the proviso that, as we have argued, the positivist movement was severely curtailed by the classicist positions of both lawyers and politicians.

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It was sociological positivism not magistrates, lawyers and prison authorities which was ousted. Lindesmith and Levin , p. It may be that the theory of the born criminal offered a convenient rationalisation of the failure of preventive effort and an escape from the implications of the dangerous doctrine that crime is an essential product of our social organisation. It may well be that a public, which had been nagged for centuries by reformers, welcomed the opportunity to slough off its responsibilities for this vexing problem.

Leon Radzinowicz , pp. The concept of the dangerous classes as the main source of crime and disorder was very much to the fore at the beginning of the nineteenth century. They were made up of those who had so miserable a share in the accumulating wealth of the industrial revolution that they might at any time break out in political revolt as in France. At their lowest level was the hard core of parasites to be found in any society, ancient or modern. It served the interests and relieved the conscience of those at the top to look upon the dangerous classes as an independent category, detached from the prevailing social conditions.

They were portrayed as a race apart, morally depraved and vicious, living by violating the fundamental law of orderly society, which was that a man should maintain himself by honest, steady work. In France they were commonly described as nomads, barbarians, savages, strangers to the customs of the country.

English terminology was, perhaps, less strong and colourful, but the meaning was fundamentally similar. Biological determinism, then, has a greater appeal than sociological positivism in that it removes any suggestion that crime may be the result of social inequalities. It is something essential in the nature of the criminal and not a malfunctioning of society. In addition, it achieves the utter decimation of the possibility of alternative realities. For the biologically inferior is used synonymously with the asocial.

The analysis focuses on the individual who is unable to be social; thus atomized, he poses no threat to the monolithic reality central to positivism. For no individual alone can create an alternative reality and his asocial nature ensures that he is a mere blemish on conventional reality. We need to examine briefly several examples of biological positivism in brief before turning to a fuller discussion of the work of Hans Eysenck and the derivative theory of Gordon Trasler.

Eysenck will be dealt with in detail, and his theory used as the exemplar of biological positivism—its most developed formulation. We shall be concerned there to examine both the ideological appeal and the explanatory sufficiency of the most sophisticated statement in this whole tradition. First, then, let us turn to Lombroso, and to the minor theorists working in his tradition.

These born crininals were seen to be reversions to earlier evolutionary periods, and to earlier levels of organic development. Atavism was suggested first by Darwin , p. He described his flash of inspiration in the following terms , p. At the sight of that skull, I seemed to see all of a sudden, lighted up as a vast plain under a flaming sky, the problem of the nature of the criminal—an atavistic being who reproduces in his person the ferocious instincts of primitive humanity and the inferior animals.

Thus were explained anatomically the enormous jaws, high cheek bones, prominent superciliary arches, solitary lines in the palms, extreme size of the orbits, handle-shaped or sensile ears found in criminals, savages and apes, insensibility to pain, extremely acute sight, tattooing, excessive idleness, love of orgies, and the irresistible craving for evil for its own sake, the desire not only to extinguish life in the victim, but to mutilate the corpse, tear its flesh and drink its blood.

Atavistic man could be recognized by a series of physical stigmata: abnormal dentition, asymmetry of face, supernumerary nipples, toes, fingers, large ears, eye defects, inverted sex characteristics, tattooing, etc. Lombroso compared criminals to control groups of soldiers and found significant differences in the incidence of such stigmata. Moreover, like all thoroughgoing positivists, he was willing to see the influence of atavism or degeneracy as a matter of degree.

As we argued in chapter 1, the sharp distinction between criminal and non-criminal the idea of differentiation that Matza alleges to be characteristic of criminological positivism is often ruled out in relatively sophisticated positivist accounts—largely as a result of their concern for quantification. His results have been shown, repeatedly, to be statistically insignificant cf. Goring, Physical stigmata It has been often remarked, and demonstrated, that physical stigmatization is often the direct result of social environment, for example, of poor nutrition.

Genetic theory Modern genetic theory has totally ruled out the possibility of an evolutionary throwback to earlier more primitive species. Social evaluation Individuals with pronounced physical stigmata may be evaluated differently from those without such visible markings by others in the course of ongoing social interaction. Crime rates Biological variation alone cannot begin to explain the variation in crime rates e.

Pioneers in this field were Ernst Kretschmer and William Sheldon He argued that a particular temperament corresponded to each of these individual types: the endomorph being predominantly slow, comfortloving and extraverted; the mesomorph aggressive and active; and the ectomorph self-restrained and introverted. In Germany a more recent development of this kind of theory by Klaus Conrad studied the percentage changes in body build as a child grows up.

He calculated head to body length against age, and found that, on average, children were more mesomorphic and adults more ectomorphic. It may well be that lower-working-class children, who are more likely to be found in the criminal statistics, are also by virtue of diet, continual manual labour, physical fitness and strength, more likely to be mesomorphic than ectomorphic.

Further, it is probably also the case that admission to delinquent subcultures is dependent on bodily appearance. As Don Gibbons , p. If so, this is a social process, not a biologically determined pattern of behaviour. The fact that many of the studies in this tradition have used inmates as subjects and come up with significant results may, of course, reflect only a tendency for mesomorphs to be incarcerated more than ectomorphs. The normal complement of chromosomes for the female is XX and for the male XY.

However, in rare cases, a chromosome may be absent, or there may be additional chromosomes. For example, the combination XXY occurs 1. Then, in , Court Brown found that the rate of delinquency amongst his patients who had sex chromosomal abnormalities was significantly high p. In Sheffield, Casey et al. But, most significantly, a large proportion had XXYY chromosomes.

Now since the excess of sex chromosome abnormalities in these institutions could almost wholly be accounted for by the XXYY cases, it seemed that such patients had a special tendency to be delinquent. It was also noted that they were unusually tall. On this assumption, Price et al. In a subsequent investigation , pp. The extra Y chromosome, therefore, seemed to be positively linked to increased height and psychopathy. The XYY sex chromosome theory is extraordinary in that it makes the remarkable claim to be able to pinpoint the precise genetic basis for a particular criminal disposition.

In all other respects it is manifestly a very crude theory which unlike the version of biological positivism expounded by Eysenck does not even attempt to explain or even to indicate the mechanisms whereby these genetic differences are translated into behavioural differences i. The theory is also very restrictive in that its explanations—such as they are—apply only to a tiny proportion of all offenders.

As Hunter astutely pointed out in a letter to the Lancet , p. The bias might be further aggravated by the associated intellectual abnormality. As Lemert has argued elsewhere , ch. Sarbin and Miller point to the widespread occurrence of criminality throughout the population—and to the fact that one of the central concerns in contemporary criminology is an investigation of the processes of selection and sifting which result in only a small proportion of law-breakers being apprehended as such. It could also be the case, Sarbin and Miller suggest, that the number of XYY males located in the working class is disproportionately high for reasons no one has explained if this is the case, then the fact that there is a disproportionate representation of XYY males in institutions may merely reflect the tendency of the police to apprehend working-class males and the class-based nature of the law itself.

But this type of analysis alone, pertinent as it is, is essentially static. That is, stigmatization of XYY individuals the formal causes of deviancy eventually engenders crime the efficient causes of deviancy —which, because of their unusual appearance, makes them more likely than other law-breakers to be arrested the formal causes of crime. In short, biological abnormality is interpreted in such a fashion that is likely to result in the stigmatized person reacting to those who are responsible for interpreting his abnormality in a deviant fashion. Biological factors enter into crime only in an indirect respect: the crucial mediation which goes unexamined in positivistic accounts is the interpretation placed on biological characteristics.

Eysenck has extended his attention over a wide range of issues, and, in so doing, has allowed us the opportunity of discussing the fundamental attributes of biological positivism in its most developed form, namely its conception of human nature, social order, deviant behaviour and scientific method. He differs, however, in his dismissal of free will and rationality in human actors.

For the stumbling block to this utilitarian notion of motivation is that the punishment of crime—by the inflicting of pain proportional to its consequences as we have seen in Beccaria —does not, in fact, eliminate criminality. The task of modern psychology, according to Eysenck, is to refurbish classical hedonism with positivistic refinements. First, he notes what he terms the principle of immediacy , p. A light weight far from the fulcrum may pull down a heavy one near it. In the case of pain and pleasure, what we have to consider is the temporal contiguity of these two resultant states to the action which produces them; the nearer in point of time the consequences are to the action, the more powerfully will they determine future actions.

Thus an action followed by a small but immediate gratification will tend to be repeated, even though it is followed by a large but delayed painful consequence. After all, as Eysenck points out, only a small proportion of crimes are cleared up and the chances of avoiding detection are often considerable. Man is seen here as a short-term hedonist; live today and enjoy yourself for you never know what tomorrow will bring.

What, then, can the positivist offer as a reasonable alternative in the control of crime? For punishment, because of its distance from the criminal deed and its probabilistic nature, has been manifestly ineffective. Eysenck , pp. But he defuses it of any connotation of a striving towards values which are pursued for their own sake. And in the New Testament letters of Paul it is the flesh which is characterised as the sphere of human rebellion against God. According to this theological logic Jorgensen required a language with which to confess and be absolved of carnal sin, and I would argue that transsexualism provided such a language.

The Protestant conviction that sin was redeemable and modifiable through personal action prepared Jorgensen to embrace profound change. Theoretically the effeminacy of the homosexual could be naturalised as a symptomatic effect of an endocrine imbalance — of too many invisible female hormones.

Between and Viennese anatomist Eugen Steinach performed an operation on at least eleven thousand homosexual males in which testicular tissue from a heterosexual male was transplanted into a homosexual male Oudshoorn Hormonal technology became a means of establishing a new hidden, chemical story about sex. George Jorgensen clearly understood the transformative power of sex hormones. This curious inversion of psychic hermaphroditism works to deny both the given male body and same sex desire.

According to Jorgensen there were two possibilities to explain his difference: either he was a homosexual or a woman Ironically in choosing the latter he perpetuated the transformation of the homosexual body that the cultural imaginary had wrought since the eighteenth century. The reason for the emergence of this figure historian Randolph Trumbach and others suggest is a major cultural shift, at least rhetorically, towards a more egalitarian patriarchal morality.

Despite the variousness of same-sex acts and the men who engaged in them, the homosexual was stereotypically portrayed as effeminate — a sexual hybrid. One could argue that the consignment of the male homosexual body to psychic drag was the cultural mechanism by which any subversion of heterosexual orthodoxy was contained However, if the homosexual lost his birthright to manhood and was interpellated as a hybrid species situated on the outer limits of the moral majority, he was always potentially a dis-easing spectre for heteronormative purity.

Heterosexuality was conceived primarily as the normative outcome of a biological process and by implication homosexuality was also governed by the endocrine system. What came to be termed the gland thesis made sex a mutable property open to scientific manipulation. It is after an incident at a Danish Club social when George is propositioned by a seaman that his commitment towards chemical castration is made.

Taboo sex is perceived as a pollution, even a death threat. The focus on the throat is revealing since it was precisely by not speaking his homoerotic desire that Jorgensen maintained his moral purity. When this purity, sustained by a scrupulous self-censorship proves vulnerable because the sailor assumes George is open to a sexual overture George decides to take female hormones and begin his own chemical castration. Castration has a long history, particularly in relation to the control of sexual deviancy.


  • SAGE Reference - Sexual Deviance!
  • Keirsey | Sex Through the Ages.
  • Cities and Low Carbon Transitions (Routledge Studies in Human Geography).
  • Philosophy of Sexuality.
  • Why sex is a central concern in psychotherapy..
  • First French Colours (First Books Book 4).
  • The New Criminology: For a Social Theory of Deviance (International Library of Sociology).

It was integral to those eugenic theories, widely circulated in the West in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, that sought to protect the health of the body politic by de-sexing the bodies of the congenitally abnormal — the sick, deviant or degenerate. Preben Hertoft and Thorkil Sorensen who have studied the medical files and interviewed psychiatrist Dr. Hamburger and his team counselled against the creation of a neo-vagina and Christine was only provided one in in New Jersey. However, in the course of their scientific experimentation with hormones the clinicians discovered the limits of hormonal therapy: its failure to erase maleness because hormonal castration was reversible.

In this twentieth-century medical story, the gender offender was offered hormonal feminisation, castration and genital surgery as normalising therapy. As a metaphor representing internal exile the closet is a dark libidinal space of the cultural imaginary, a doorless room for some whose only opening had to be made in themselves. Meyer-Bahlburg, Heino F. Bleuel, Hans Peter. Sex and Society in Nazi Germany.

Maxwell Brownjohn. Philadelphia: J. Lippincott, Chauncey, George. New York: Basic Books, New York: Harper, Freedman, Estelle B. Hamburger, Christian, George K. Hausman, Bernice L. Durham: Duke UP, Hekma, Gert. Third Sex, Third Gender. New York: Zone, Hertoft, Preben and Thorkil Sorensen. Ciba Symposium Amsterdam: Excerpta Medica, Hirschfeld, Magnus.