Marxian vs. Positivism Perspectives Crime and deviance are issues that dominate the public’s imagination; the study of which involves a number of contributing disciplines, criminology, statistics, psychology, biology to name a few but the largest contributor is sociology. There have been major changes in the way Sociologists perceive and study deviance over the years. In this essay the author will briefly compare and contrast the perspectives of Marxian and Positivism as they relate to the issues of crime and deviant behavior. The author will offer her opinion as to which perspective she feels best relates to her understanding of crime and deviance. According to Goode (2011), deviance is an analytic category; humans evaluate one
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Essentialism sees deviance as objectively real - scientifically explainable; it implies Positivism, the scientific effort to account for why people engage in deviant behavior. In contrast, constructionism argues that the most fundamental feature of deviance is the fact that rules, judgments of wrongdoing, and assigning offenders to deviant categories are rendered by specific audiences in specific contexts; Marxism takes a constructionism approach to explaining human behavior (Vandenburgh, 2004). Positivists believe deviants are born, not made, and are identified by visible traits they exhibit, such a physical characteristics and intelligence. Cesare Lombroso, one of earliest supporters of Positivism, believed that people biologically inherited deviant and criminal tendencies, that they were evolutionary throwbacks that could be recognized, “… by atavistic appearances: heavy brow ridges, large jars, apelike ears and so on” (Vandenburgh, 2004, p. 40). Positivism proposes that if we can figure out why people commit deviant acts, society can then proceed to curb the behavior; unfortunately, these theories have been heavily criticized as they were used by some to justify racism and discrimination.
Marxism, taking its name from Karl Marx, a nineteenth-century German intellectual, argued that the way we think at a particular time and place, is a reflection of the economic arrangement of the society in which we live. “Moreover, in any society, it is the dominant social class