Commitment to science and rationality and their application in public policy was a defining characteristic of modernity.

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A commitment to science and rationality and their application in public policy was a defining characteristic of modernity.
Critically examine this statement and discuss its implications for understanding the nature of crime control policy up until the 1970 s.

Y Progress through:
1. Maximising individual freedom
2. The perfection of legal system
3. Punishment must respect individual rights and responsibilities due process
4. Punishment as deterrence and retribution

Criminological Positivism
Y Progress through:
1. Reason in science applied to human affairs
2. Recognising the determinants of human action
3. Response to crime
Y Rehabilitation of known offenders
Y Pre-empting through removing sources: welfare addressing poverty, addressing family life

Welfare and Rehabilitation

Modernity & Enlightenment Reason
A belief in progress through the application of reason to human affairs

The visible presence of class conflict and social misery in Europe, the rise of scientific interest and industrial innovation, and the idea of evolution and stages in human development were all to influence the establishment of positivism as an approach to human affairs. Positivism was founded upon the belief that society (civilisation) is progressing ever forward, and that the social scientist can study society, provide a more accurate understanding of how society works, and ultimately provide a rational means of overcoming existing social problems and ills by using scientific methods. Social scientists were interested in promoting a positive view of the social order, and in providing positive interventions in social life to make things better. This required systematic study of existing social problems, and the development of a wide range of techniques and strategies to deal with issues relating to schooling, poverty and family life. Institutionally, the development of positivism was closely associated with the rise of the professions during the 19th Century. The passing of legislation in Britain that banned the use of child labour factories, was accompanied by the introduction of compulsory schooling and expanded welfare concern over the plight of the children of the poor. Under the rubric of positive reform, a wide variety of  experts medical, doctors, psychiatrists, health workers, teachers, criminal justice officials and social workers began to devise  scientific ways to raise children better, to professionalise parenting, to deal with personal troubles and individual deficiencies, to deal with young offenders and generally to engineer wide scale social reform. Liberal reform rested upon the idea of progress, humanitarianism and the active construction of a more caring and supportive society. People no longer relied upon appeals to god, revelation, faith or opinion to devise appropriate institutional responses to social problems ; rather social change was to be managed rationally by use of the scientific criteria of logic and empirical study. The development of positivism was related to efforts to adopt natural science methods and concepts in the study of society. This meant accepting certain ideas about the human experience, and attempting to quantify and classify this experience in the expectation that expert intervention could forestall or rectify particular kinds of social problems.

Positivism is based on the idea of a scientific understanding of crime and criminality. It assumes that there is a distinction between the  normal and the  deviant , and attempts to study the specific factors that give rise to deviant or criminal behaviour. One of the hallmarks of the positivist approach is the notion that behaviour is determined; that is, the activity and behaviour of individuals are primarily shaped by factors and forces outside the immediate control of the individual. Behaviour is a reflection of certain influences on a person, whether biological, psychological, or social in nature. It is believed that offenders vary: individual differences exist between offenders, and these in turn can be measured and classified in some way. Rather than seeing people in terms of equal capacities, or equal rights, the positivist view emphasises difference, which reflects varying conditions affecting each person. The focus of analysis therefore is on the nature and characteristics of the offender, rather than on the criminal act. Offenders can be scientifically studied and the factors leading to their criminality can be diagnosed, classified, and ultimately treated or dealt with in some way. It is the job of the  expert to identify the specific conditions leading to criminality in any particular case.

The positivist approach is directed towards the treatment of offenders. Offending behaviour is analysed in terms of factors or forces beyond the conscious control of the individual. To respond to crime therefore means to deal with the reasons that caused the offending behaviour to occur in the first place. Since each individual offender is different from all others, treatment must be individualised. This translates at an institutional level into arguments in favour of indeterminate sentences, length of time in custody should not depend solely on the nature of the criminal act committed, but must take into account the diagnosis and classification of the offender, and the type of treatment appropriate to the specific individual.

The origins of positivist perspectives in criminology lie in two interrelated developments in the latter part of the 19th Century. One strand of scientific research attempted to provide biological explanations for criminal behaviour ; the other focused on psychological factors associated with criminality.

Biological positivism
Biological positivism was first popularised through the work of Lombroso. Borrowing heavily from evolutionary theories, Lombroso attempted to distinguish different types of human individuals, and to classify them on the basis of racial and biological difference. In a form of  criminal anthropology , the argument here was that a general theory of crime can be developed on the basis of measurable physical differences between the criminal and the no criminal. Specifically, Lombroso wanted to establish a link between criminality, and the assumption that individuals exhibit particular traits that roughly correspond to the various stages of human evolution. For Lombroso, the criminal was born, not made. The idea of a  born criminal reflected the notion that crime is the result of something essential to the nature of the individual criminal. In the early formulations of this view, discussion focused on the concept of the  atavistic criminal , a person who was biologically inferior in that they represented a reversion to an earlier human evolutionary period. Lombroso later modified his views somewhat, although the element of biological determinism remained. He developed a typology of criminals that divided the population into the  epileptic criminal , the  insane criminal ,  occasional criminal etc. He said that the female offender in fact was biologically more like a man than a woman. The emphasis on biological factors in explanations of crime was reflected in a number of subsequent studies. Certainly the  science of phrenology was popular in criminology for a number of years around the beginning of the 20th Century. This doctrine assumes that the shape and size of the skull correspond to the functions and ability of the brain. A study undertaken in 1912 at the University of Melbourne provides an illustration of this kind of research (Brown 1992). The study conducted on 355 male inmates of Pentridge prison. The skulls of the prisoners were examined and estimates of the cubic capacity of their brains were made in an attempt to correlate the size of the skull to intelligence. It was concluded that cattle stealers had the lowest br