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Criminology (7th edn)

Stephen Jones
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date: 24 June 2024

4. The classical and positivist traditionslocked

4. The classical and positivist traditionslocked

  • Stephen JonesStephen JonesHonorary Senior Lecturer, School of Law, University of Bristol


This chapter discusses in detail the two major themes in the formation of criminological thinking. The tension between these two traditions has existed since the development of positivism in the nineteenth century and is still of considerable importance in present-day debates about crime and ‘law and order’. It is common to single out France as typifying all that was bad with the administration of the criminal law in pre-eighteenth-century Europe. France provided an extreme example of what passed as criminal ‘justice’ throughout most of Europe. It was generally believed that crime was the consequence of evil. In some cases, it was assumed that the Devil or demons had taken over individuals and directed them to perform wicked acts. Alternatively, people whose faith in God was weak might have yielded to temptation and made a pact with the Devil.

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