Neighborhoods and Crime Theory

Topics: Criminology, Robert E. Park, Chicago Pages: 3 (849 words) Published: February 17, 2014

The Neighborhoods and Crime Theory came about from research by the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago. Their goal was to pinpoint the environmental factors related to crime. Where as Durkheim focused on how rapid change in society influenced crime rates, these studies looked at how change in individual neighborhoods affected crime. The research as a whole is known as the Chicago School of Human Ecology. Ecology is the study of relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings. This study viewed the communities that people live in as humans’ natural habitats. Just like in nature, humans struggle for survival is related to their interactions with the environment and other humans. Robert Park, working for the Sociology Department at the University of Chicago, believed there were two key concepts that formed his “theory of human ecology.” The first concept is the idea of “symbiosis,” or different species living together in the same community for the mutual benefit of each species. Park saw a variety of groups such as ethnic communities, occupational groups, and individuals with the same income as these “species,” which together play an important role for the community as a whole. The second concept from Park is the ecology process of “invasion, dominance, and succession.” From an ecology standpoint this process happens when a new species takes over an area and changes the previous balance of nature. An example of this happening in human societies is shown through the history of America. Europeans carried out the process of invasion, dominance, and succession, starting with the takeover of the territory of the Native Americans. On a much smaller level, neighborhoods can shift from dominantly one ethnicity to dominantly another. The theory of invasion, dominance, and succession was researched further by one of Park’s colleagues, Ernest Burgess. Burgess argued that cities expand radially from their center, rather than just...
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