After having read Chapters 5 and 6 in the textbook Introduction to Criminology by Frank Hagan, I was able to identify the following three points of interest:
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The fact that, throughout the entirety of both of these Chapters, Hagan made a deliberate point in referring to the Positivist criminological theory, as such that has been largely discredited.
In my opinion, this prevents us from being able to agree with the suggestion that the concerned textbook is indeed unbiased. After all, even though nowadays it is being rarely acknowledged, the Positivist criminological paradigm continues to be practically deployed by the criminal investigators that work in the field. The validity of this suggestion can be illustrated in regards to the fact that, for the duration of the 1981 Olympic Games in Moscow, there has been not even a single incident of a criminal misdemeanor reported in the mentioned city of eight million.
The reason for this is that, before the Games’ opening, the police had simply gathered up all the city’s reported anti-social residents with clearly defined atavistic traits to their appearance (as defined by Cesare Lombroso), and expelled them from Moscow for two weeks. As the saying goes, “If it is stupid but it works, it is not stupid”.
The author’s suggestion that the rise of Positivist Criminology has been discursively predetermined: “Lombroso’s notions of biological determinism of criminality were very compatible with the ideological climate of the late nineteenth century” (Hagan 131).
Even though I do largely agree with the above-quoted idea, I nevertheless think that there was so much more to the Positivist Criminology’s former popularity than merely the fact that, back in the 19th century, the ideology of political correctness did not exist. It is important to understand that, even though many of the Lombroso’s notions did end up proven rather speculative, the very theoretical premise, upon which these notions rest, appears thoroughly consistent with even the most recent breakthroughs in the field of biology/genetics. Therefore, contrary to the author’s implicit assumption that Positivist Criminology can no longer be considered methodologically valid, I think that this is far from being the actual case.
The author’s critique of the Positivist criminological paradigm on the account of its failure to take into consideration the fact that one’s physical appearance is not 100% genetically predetermined: “Not all biological differences are inherited; many may be due to prenatal environment, injury, and inadequate diet” (Hagan 135).
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I do not think that this particular remark, on the author’s part, is relevant to the discursive significance of how Positivist criminologists refer to the link between a particular person’s physical appearance, on the one hand, and his or her likelihood to commit crimes, on the other. It is understood, of course, that one’s appearance is being affected by biological and environmental factors.
Nevertheless, it is only when a particular individual simultaneously bears a number of the clearly defined marks of a physiological atavism that there may be a certain rationale in referring to him or her in terms of a ‘natural born criminal’. In their turn, these marks come because of the concerned person’s evolutionary underdevelopment. This, of course, makes it possible for them to be identified as having been genetically predetermined rather than caused by the specifics of the affiliated natural/social environment.
Hagan, Frank. Introduction to Criminology. 8th Ed. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, 2013. Print.