Treadwell (2006) suggests that Cesare Lombroso can be named as the founding father of modern criminology. Lombroso also established the Italian School of Positivist Criminology. He utterly opposed the classical approach, which stood behind the idea that crime was an intrinsic characteristic of the human nature (Treadwell, 2006). Lombroso introduced the positivist movement in the end of 19th century, offering a more scientific modus operandi to criminology. Walklate (2005) elaborates that positivism introduced empirically researching crime and trying to understand it from its social perspective. Many theories have surfaced around the late 19th century such a approaching crime scientifically and researching the social background of the perpetrators (Walklate, 2005).
Thanks to Lombrosos contribution, theories linking crime to psychological defects and social aspects started to be attributed to crimes. Biological theories also triggered the idea of the “born criminal”. Nowadays Positivism has evolved into the search of objective criminal fact. Wilcox and Cullen (2010) pose that positivism in criminology can be divided into three types: Biological (the period of Lombroso), Psychological (the period of Freud) and Social (the works of Durkheim and Park).
The methods applied in positivism employ empirical, scientific data. The purpose of social research in positivism is to get hold of objective facts. In this train of thoughts positivism is subjective, because it is focused on finding out the meaning behind the criminal actions. Hagan (2010) describes three basic assumptions: measurement – which is related to the quantification of the collected data, objectivity – which demonstrates neutrality and causality, which determines what caused and led to the crime.
Before Positivism sprang into life, criminology was applying different methodology – that of the classical school. Taylor et al (1973), explain that