The Ecological Approach and

The Ecological Approach and - The Ecological Approach and...

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The Ecological Approach and Social Disorganization The ecological approach within criminology was popular in the 1920s through the 1940s. The model is often compared to Durkheim's because of its similarity to anomie theory . Both can be labelled as social disorganization models. The ecological approach was developed during the 1920s and 1930s at the University of Chicago . The model was developed by the sociology department and used to explain urban social change; of which changing crime patterns was one phenomenon under study. Chicago's Loop Robert Park and Ernest Burgess pioneered the ecological approach. The model was borrowed from the study of plant ecosystems. In nature, plants and animals seem to live together in mutual harmony and are ultimately interdependent. [Bees pollinate flowers producing seeds, etc.] Such mutual interdependence is called "symbiosis." Park believed that cities might be symbiotic environments . Park believed that the city was a super-organism ( Durkheim's concept of the division of labor typical of organic solidarity was similar) that contained natural areas. Natural areas took many different forms, including [1] ethnic enclaves [2] activity related areas (e.g. business districts, shopping districts, manufacturing districts, residential areas, etc.), [3] income groupings (e.g. The Gold Coast ( Zorbaugh ), middle class neighborhoods, ghettos, etc.), and [4] physically separated areas (areas cut off from each other by rivers, lakes, railroad tracks, airports, etc.).
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While the concepts of symbiosis and natural areas might explain city life at any one point in time (a snapshot), alone they could not explain urban change, in particular, the patterns of growth, decay, and renewal which all cities appeared to follow. To explain this phenomenon Park borrowed another concept from plant ecology, invasion. While an ecosystem might remain in balance for a sustained period of time, the introduction of a new species might upset the old balance. For example, in the early 20th century, English settlers introduced a breed of cactus into Australia that proceeded to grow everywhere and killed off a significant amount of the native vegetation. Park believed that a similar pattern occurred in cities. As the "new" invaded an established natural area a struggle for dominance was precipitated. If the invasion was successful, the new became dominant and the process of succession was complete. The "new" might be a group of people [e.g. Polish immigrants replacing Irish] or urban development. In order to explain how the process of invasion and succession worked on a large scale, Park and Burgess developed their concentric zone theory. There were 5 zones: Zone I - Central business Zone II - Zone of Transition* Zone III - Working Class Homes Zone IV - Middle Class Homes Zone V - Commuters Zone II was marked by a high level of transition, with people moving in and out of the area. It was hypothesized that this "zone of transition" led to social disorganization.
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The Ecological Approach and - The Ecological Approach and...

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