Sample Research Paper on Lombroso Cesare and his Contribution to Criminology


The aspect of criminology and the study of the subject was started by Cesare
Lombroso, hence his title of being the father of criminology. Through critical analysis,
Lombroso came up with different crime theories and particularly addressed crime among
women. While he played a role in defining modern-day criminology and the practices related
to the subject, he created a ripple effect that dissected his work. According to the Lombroso's
theory of criminology, it is believed that crime and criminality were carried from one
generation to another through inheritance and that specific physical defects identify criminals
in the society, otherwise referred to as atavistic nature or savagery.
Most people have misinterpreted the Lombrosian theory. Most of them claim that he
bent data to fit his narrative and created theories like that of atavism that defines crime as a
hereditary practice for savages. Due to such perception, Lombroso is now known as the
father of modern criminology, who might have been misinterpreted throughout his time. I
agree that while Lombroso contributed significantly to the unit of criminology and helped
fight crime, he was mostly misinterpreted due to different people interpreting his data and
findings differently.
Cesare Lombroso can be remembered as the person who set up the subject of
criminology and helped structure the crime and investigation department. Lombroso started
his contributions in the field of criminology by publishing his first book named "L'uomo
delinquente" in the year 1876. In the book, Lombroso talks about his perception of crime,
arguing that both physical and biological alterations describe criminals and non-offenders.
According to Knepper and Ystehede (2013, p. 11), Lombroso's theory on crime about the
"atavistic" nature of criminals provides a new dimension to crime and how we understand it.
According to Lombroso, the theory of atavism holds that people who engage in criminal
activates are savages who are primitive and backward. The theory asserts that criminals are

The Theories pf Lombroso Cesare and his Contribution to Criminology: 3
not normal human beings as their biological and physical set up alters their approach to
society. It was also argued that Lombroso's theories were acceptable to the public and his
description of the criminal man "fit perfectly with then-current hierarchies of gender, race,
sexuality, social class, and physical ability." Gibson and Rafter (2006, p. 171). The theory
was highly regarded, and it played a role in establishing the criminology department.
However, Lombroso's theory of atavism and other ideologies of his work started facing
critical scrutiny in the 19 th century, creating the notion that Lombroso's work was highly
Another aspect of Lombroso's highly misunderstood work was his methods of doing
research and collecting information and data. Many scholars and researchers who have gone
through Lombroso's work claim that he had fishy ways of carrying out research that were not
transparent and subject to peer review. Mary Gibson argues that he 'bended data to fit his
theories" (Gibson and Rafter, 2009, p. 139). The author asserts that while he was studying the
body of a dead woman (Giuseppe Villella's body), Lombroso was seen to hide a lot of
information and bend the data to fit his theories. Since Lombroso had come up with the
criminal man's theories and how he or she was born into the character, he bent the truth in the
case to match his findings. Critics imply that Lombroso worked in Italy where crimes were
rampant and he interacted with the same looking criminals through which he created a profile
of the "criminal man" (Beccatossi, 2010, p. 561-562). Just as explained, Lombroso's work is
highly misunderstood due to the critics that have addressed the possibility of his rigidness to
share the correct data acquire from his studies and experiment. For that reason, I agree that
Lombroso's work was misinterpreted by many.
One finding that creates doubt in people that Lombroso documented was the criminal
woman's findings. After going through the woman's case carefully, Lombroso concluded that
the woman was sexually active and less intelligent, which were some of the characteristics

The Theories pf Lombroso Cesare and his Contribution to Criminology: 4
that defined her as a criminal. According to Newburn (2017. p. 124-125), Lombroso's
findings on the criminal woman's case are highly reviewed, based on the fact that Lombroso
concluded that women were worse criminals compared to men. Just as the author explains,
Lombroso made a controversial conclusion that women were likely to be criminals because
feelings of vengeance drive them. The findings were criticized based on the evolution that the
world has seen in women and the power that they have been given over the years. In the 19 th
century, it was widely believed that a woman's biological goal was motherhood and being a
good wife (Cullen & Wilcox, 2010). However, Lombroso's theories about the criminal
woman are not a representation of today's era as women have much more freedom than they
did at the time of his writings. He described the criminal woman as 'undeveloped' men,
which goes against political correctness today. I agree that Lombroso's work was highly
misinterpreted, warranting the critics seen in the world of academics today.


Lombroso made significant contributions to the department of crime by structuring
the criminology department that has helped fight crime over the decades. While the
philosophers' theories contributed to the department's creation, they also became a subject of
criticism. In his work, Lombroso made studies and experiments on criminals, how they
behaved, what they loved to do, and how they were similar. Through careful examination of
criminals, Lombroso concluded that they were inherited and they also harbored unique
physical features. Although they were great contributions to criminology, Lombroso's
theories were vastly criticized. Nevertheless, some ideas rooted in his work are alive today, as
there is a belief that there might be physical characteristics that can contribute to criminal
behavior, which can be seen in the nature vs. nurture debate in criminology. Lombroso's
work contributed highly to the establishment of criminology. While he may not have carried

The Theories pf Lombroso Cesare and his Contribution to Criminology: 5
out his work and research in a conventional way, he was highly misinterpreted in his findings
and general work.
The work that Lombroso did mostly revolved around crime, especially for women.
The scholar managed to go through different cases, experiments and other forms of
knowledge acquisition, making him an individual with immense knowledge in the field. For
that reason, it is important to note that it is possible that most of Lombroso's work was indeed
misinterpreted. First, Lombroso’s thoughts and ideas on women in crime did not sit down
well with critics. According to Lombroso, women were likely to get involved in crime
because they were creatures that were driven by vengeance. In my opinion, Lombroso was
misunderstood in this case, as I am sure he meant that emotions play a role in influencing
crime. Essentially, Lombroso came to the conclusion that since women were thought to be
the weaker gender, they were more likely to get in trouble because they could not control
their emotions. However, those facts as tabled by Lombroso are rubbished in today’s society
due to the empowerment that women have received over the years. In the past, women were
not valued, and their opinions did not count. For that reason, it was easy for women to be
subject to assumptions that continue to be deciphered in modern criminology and society.
Due to the fact that women are valued and respected today, it is impossible for an individual
o believe Lombroso's assertion that women were in fact weaker genders and are bound to get
into crime compared to their male counterparts.
Lombroso believed that criminals had special physical features that identified them,
and he asserted that criminals were born into crime with common physical features. Since
Lombroso spent his time with all types of criminals, he took his time to profile them.
Through the profiles, he managed to come up with a solution to finding and identifying
criminals. He came to the conclusion that criminals had similar physical features like being

The Theories pf Lombroso Cesare and his Contribution to Criminology: 6
left-handed. Due to such assertions, critics believe that the work of Lombroso was not clear,
the critics believe that Lombroso provided the public with information that he could not
explain. Such antics have provided a lengthy streak of criticism on his work and his
ideologies on crime and criminals. Today, Lombroso's work is under criticism because of the
assumptions that people believe Lombroso made. For example, I understand that people may
be infuriated based on the fact that Lombroso casually called individuals out as criminals
based on certain physical features. Additionally, his work continues to face negative review
since his work acts more like an attack on human beings rather than a corrective measure.
Thus, I believe that the work of Lombroso was done effectively, and he contributed critically
to the field of criminology, hoever, he is being discredited because of the misinterpretation
sthat can easily be explained.

The Theories pf Lombroso Cesare and his Contribution to Criminology: 7

Reference List

Beccalossi, C. (2010) Lombroso, Cesare: The criminal man. In F, Cullen, & P. Wilcox (eds)
Enciclopedia of criminal theory. (pp 561 -566).
Cullen, F.T., and Wilcox, P. eds., 2010. Encyclopedia of criminological theory (Vol. 1). Sage
Gibson M. and Rafter, N H. (2009) Cesare Lombroso, Criminal Man. Durham and London:
Duke university press. Durham and London: Duke university press.
Knepper, P., and Ystehede, P. eds., 2013. The Cesare Lombroso Handbook. Routledge.
Newburn, T. (2017). 'Classicism and Positivism,' in Criminology (3 rd ed.), UK, Oxon: