INTRODUCTION TO CRIMINOLOGY 154 the development of sociology as a distinctive

Introduction to criminology 154 the development of

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INTRODUCTION TO CRIMINOLOGY154the development of sociology as a distinctive American discipline in the twenties and thirties with Robert Park, Ernest Burgess, and Louis Wirth as the primary mentors. This group would develop a comprehensive theoretical system urban ecology that would generate a remarkable number of urban life studies (Stein, 1964).Human EcologyLike Durkheim, Park (1952) saw that freedom from group constraints often also entailed freedom from group supports. While Durkheim referred to this as anomie, Park used the notion of “indi-vidualization due to mobility.” Ecology is a field that examines the interrelationship between human organisms and environment. Park’s theory was based on human ecology,looking at humans and the environment and, more specifically, at urban ecology, viewing the city as a growing organism, heavily employing analogies from plant ecology. According to Park, the heterogeneous contact of racial and ethnic groups in the city often leads to competition for status and space, as well as conflict, accommo-dation, acculturation, assimilation, or amalgamation—terms all quite similar to concepts in botany (plant biology), such as segregation, invasion, succession, and dispersion. One of Park’s key notions was that of natural areas,subcommunities that emerge to serve specific, specialized functions. They are called “natural” since they are unplanned and serve to order the functions and needs of diverse popula-tions within the city. Natural areas provide institutions and organizations places to socialize its inhab-itants and to provide for social control. Such natural areas include ports of embarkation, Burgess’s “zone of transition,” ghettos, bohemias, hobohemias, and the like. Burgess’s (1925) concentric zone theory, which views cities as growing outward in concentric rings, served as the graphic model for the Chicago school’s theory of human ecology. Figure 6.1 presents Burgess’s concentric zone theory.Wirth’s (1938) theory of urbanism as a way of life viewed the transition from the rural to the urban way of life as producing social disorganization, marginality, anonymity, anomie, and alienation because of the heterogeneity, freedom, and loneliness of urban life. The Chicago school expressed an anti-urban bias in its analysis and nostalgia for the small Midwestern towns in which most of its theorists had originated.Using Park’s concept of natural areas as a building block, Chicago school students were enjoined to perform case studies of these areas in order to generate hypotheses as well as, it was hoped, generaliza-tions. Park (1952) expressed this hope:The natural areas of the city, it appears from what has been said, may be made to serve an important methodological function. They constitute, taken together, what Hobson has described as “a frame of reference,” a conceptual order within which statistical facts gain a new and more general significance. They not only tell us what the facts are in regard to conditions
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