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Introducti17 - their physical and material circumstances b...

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Introduction Ecological theories , as with the Functionalist theories to which they are closely-related (see Teachers’ Notes: Unit M4: Functionalism ), are sometimes called “ Positivist ” theories. This is because they seek to locate the causes of human behaviour (in this case, deviance and non- deviance) within some form of social structure that exists external to the individual. In the case of ecological theories, the causes of crime, for example, are to be found in the way the physical environment in which people live and interact socially creates the conditions for criminal and non-criminal behaviour. Ecological theories also, you might like to note, share a couple of common features with Functionalist subcultural theories (see Teachers Notes: Unit M6: Subcultural Theories ): a. Both, albeit in slightly different ways, place particular stress on the way various cultural / sub-cultural groups develop their own particular norms and values in a way that reflects both
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Unformatted text preview: their physical and material circumstances. b. Both are implicitly structural in scope and, more-specifically, have developed out of mainstream Functionalist theory. This can perhaps be best seen in relation to the way both forms of theorising emphasise how individual / group values arise as a response to an individual's social circumstances / situation. To put this another way, both types of theory adopt a positivist approach to the study and explanation of deviance. Where ecological theories tend to differ from sub-cultural theories is in the different stress placed upon the origin of sub-cultural behaviour . Ecologists, as we will see, have tended to emphasise the significance of the physical environment or geographic area (hence, such theories are sometimes known as " area studies "), while sub-cultural theorists have tended to emphasise the way in which norms and values relate more to material circumstances....
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