Social Ecology of Crime

Per-Olof H. Wikström

in Criminology

ISBN: 9780195396607
Published online December 2009 | | DOI:
Social Ecology of Crime

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Social (or human) ecology may be broadly defined as the study of the social and behavioral consequences of the interaction between human beings and their environment. It specifically explores the causes and consequences of processes of segregation—the emergence through selection of environmental differentiation along key dimensions such as population composition and land use. It investigates how exposure to different environments (area- and place-based differential social organization and activities) influences human development and action. The social ecology of crime is the study of one particular behavioral outcome of these processes, the violation of rules of conduct defined in law. It focuses on the role of the environment in the development of people’s differential propensity to engage in crime and their differential exposure to settings conducive to engagement in acts of crime. Although the label “social ecology of crime” is often used in reference to studies of cross-national, regional, intercity and urban-rural differences in crime, its prime concentration has been on researching and explaining variation in crime within the urban environment. It is therefore not surprising to find that the most important theoretical and empirical contributions of this perspective emanate from the study of urban areas. An ecological perspective (defined as a pure environmental approach) is often contrasted with, and sometimes regarded as being in opposition to, an individual (psychological, biological, genetic) approach to the study of crime causation. However, the advancement of a fully developed ecological perspective on crime (a full understanding of the role of the human-environment interaction in crime causation) requires a better integration of environmental and individual approaches in the study of crime causation.

Article.  5367 words. 

Subjects: Criminology and Criminal Justice ; Criminal Justice ; Criminology

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