Social Disorganization Theory

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Social disorganization refers to the process that is contrary to theorganization of a group. The facets of society occur in a way thatonly results in desirable outcomes if they are in a definite sequencethat does not give room for conflict. When this fails, the result isan imbalance. Social disorganization theory has a foundation in thesocial disequilibrium that exists when a society starts to changes. Acompromise on this solidarity leads to breaking of the socialconsensus (Thio et al., 2012). The resultant effect involves certainelements in the society overlooking the existing rules and codes ofbehavior that govern specific groups within a society. The brokenbalance and lack of immediate adjustment fail to function in a waythat satisfies all the members is a society.

Social disorganization theory has several basic principles. First,place matters. The ecology surrounding an individual and the changesit embraces significantly changes one`s behavior. There is a conflictof mores and institutions that control the everyday life of a place(Miller et al., 2014). With time, these institutions and the valuessupporting them becomes obsolete, and people form new ones. Some holdonto the old values as the others introduce the new ones. The resultis a disorganized society.

There is also the principle of individuation whereby people thinkregarding self rather than regarding the interests of the society.People take into important matters of their lives including marriage,occupation, and careers concerning their prejudiced thoughts(Steenbeek &amp Hipp, 2011). Since people`s interests divergeinstead of pointing to a common point, the society becomesdisorganized.

Another primary principle for the social solidarity theory is thechange in the roles and status of groups and individuals. The socialconstruction of behavior in every society continues to change, andpeople find themselves turning to roles that they could not haveperformed in the past (Miller et al., 2014). The lack of definiteroles for different groups of people in the society is a major causeof disequilibrium. When some are fast to adapt to the new methods,others still stick to the conventional ways, and there is no balance.

Both the status frustration and social disorganization theoryexplains crime in a setting mainly in an urban ecology. Statusfrustration theory focuses on the crime emanating from the youthsliving in poor neighborhoods. They form their new culture afterdisregarding the values that govern the other well to doneighborhoods. Social disorganization theory also uses the principleof place to explain how crime manifests in a given group of peopleespecially among the in low-income urban neighborhoods. However,unlike social disorganization theory that is a result of changes inthe society like school dropouts, unemployment among others, socialfrustration theory is due to the general inequality betweenneighborhoods and not necessarily due to the changes within it.

The street code theory emanates from the low economic status of agroup of people living in an urban setting and that forge its rulesto suit the prevailing condition (Matsuda et al., 2013). Like thesocial disorganization theory, street code theory capitalizes on theplace since the behavior does not extend beyond this community.However, unlike in the social disorganization theory whereby everyoneseeks his path to fulfilling his goals, people living under thestreet code theory have a set of principles that define theirbehavior. For example, they have fairly similar forms of violence andways of earning respect (Matsuda et al., 2013). All the membersidentifying themselves with the group are well acquainted with thecodes. In the case of violence, the methods of aggression are fairlyin all the members. It is unlike in the social disorganization theorywhereby people may commit crimes that are within their capacity andnot as dictated by a group.

In the three theories, poverty and social changes are the mainexplanation for the crime. The social disorganization theory is usedto explain why an individual commits a crime by borrowing from itsprinciples. The place of residence of an individual determines hispossibility of committing a crime. An individual physical location isresponsible for the behavioral choices that people make. Socialdisorganization theory involves a series of changes in the societythat cause imbalance. The resultant factors may make people feel leftout from the rest of the decent neighborhoods since most of them aredue to economic hardships. For this reason, individual interests leadthem to crime. Criminologists use this basis to understand why anindividual would entertain criminal tendencies.

The theory is very instrumental for criminologists to understandcriminal behavior. The continued disorganization of a group in anurban area is a recipe for crime. Criminologists observe the trendsin the lives of people in such a setting and predict the chances ofcriminal behavior. In the case of a crime whose major cause may notbe readily known, criminologist use leads to trace an individual’slives and their backgrounds. An evident change in a community’s wayof life that leads to a poor observance of values can be validexplanations for such crimes. They also use the theory to map areaswhere crime is likely to be prevalent as a result of the changingsocial conditions.


Matsuda, K. N.,Melde, C., Taylor, T. J., Freng, A., &amp Esbensen, F. A. (2013).Gang Membership and Adherence to the “Code of the Street”.Justice Quarterly, 30(3), 440-468.

Miller, J. M.,Schreck, C. J., &amp Tewksbury, R. (2014). Criminological Theory:A brief Introduction. New York N.Y.: Pearson.

Steenbeek, W., &ampHipp, J. R. (2011). A Longitudinal Test of Social DisorganizationTheory: Feedback Effects among Cohesion, Social Control, andDisorder. Criminology, 49(3), 833-871.

Thio, A. D., Taylor,J. D., &amp Schwartz, M. D. (2012). Deviant Behavior. NewYork N.Y.: Pearson.

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