The Social disorganization theory

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TheSocial disorganization theory

TheSocial Disorganization Theory

CliffordShaw and Henry McKay propounded the social disorganization theory inthe year 1942. These scholars came up with findings which are stillin used in the current society. According to them, the social and thephysical surrounding of an individual will determine their behaviorsand attitudes (McCord, 1992). The structure of the neighborhood thata person lives in determines whether they will adopt the violentcharacters. Elements such child abuse, lack of youth mentoring andsupervision and also minimal parental care also contribute to theindividual’s choice to committing crimes (McCord, 1992). This paperwill analyze how social disorganization theory impacts on individualsand also how it helps justice professionals understand criminalactivities.

Accordingto Shaw and McKay, neighborhoods help in determining the differentlevels of crime rates. People living in places where violence andcrime rates are high, they are likely to adopt these behaviors(McCord, 1992). The size of the population does not help indetermining whether the crime rates will increase or decrease.Additionally, the number of crime and violent cases in an arearemains the same or it could increase. This regardless of whether adifferent ethnic comes to occupy the place.

Thepopulation is high in regions with economic hardships. In thesesocieties, setups such as churches and schools, which are responsiblefor molding acceptable behaviors and characters in the younggeneration, fail to perform their functions (Cullen and Wilcox,2010). The vices adopted in one generation are passed on to the nextone. Individuals learn these criminal acts through their regularcontacts with ex-cons who live in the same place. People who grow upin these locations belong to families where the guardians or parentshave minimal control over the choices they make (Cullen and Wilcox,2010).

Peopleliving in areas associated with the recurrence of offenses and felonyoften relocate to safer regions. As a result, newer residents come tooccupy the vacated houses. Individuals live a life where they do notknow any detail about their neighbors. People occupying these hoodsdo not have a common goal for their community (Siegel, 2010). Theyare unable to solve any problems or issues that affect the wholecommunity. As a result, people commit crime and engaging violencebecause they feel that nobody is willing to solve their problems(Siegel, 2010)

Failureby the institutions such as families, to enforce morality leads tothe formation of gangs and the recruitment of new members into theexisting illegal groups. The leaders of these illegal groups oftenrecruit young members to ensure that their legacy is passed on to thesuccessive age groups (Siegel, 2010). Those who feel alienated fromtheir families and friends are likely to join these groups. Membersof these gangs engage in prohibited activities such as robbing andselling or using illegal drugs. Individuals who belong to thesegroups often take the vow to survive by every means possible. They donot take into consideration the repercussions of their actions(Siegel, 2010).

Lackof parental guidance or adult advice for people living in areas proneto the occurrence of crime could result in their involvement with theillegal activities (Siegel, 2010). Parents who do not control theirchildren’s acts or social lives often leads to their engagement inimmoral actions. It is also harder for adults to correct any childwho is not theirs in such neighborhoods. Most guardians concern ishow their children behave and they punish them when they do somethingwrong. The methods they use in punishing could be physical but attimes, they also deny them some privileges such as watching thetelevision (Siegel, 2010).

Thereare few police officers who patrol these areas. People living inthese areas view the police as their enemy. When they patrol theirneighborhoods, gang members will not get the chance to carry outtheir tasks, which includes trading drugs. Drug dealers and membersof the gang avoid any contact with the law enforcement officers. Theoccupants of these regions rely on ways such as keeping an eye on theneighbor’s property when they are away (Cullen and Wilcox, 2010).They seem to trust each other more than the police officers.

Sincethe major issue in these locations is poverty, the government shouldwork towards the economic and the social empowerment of theinhabitants. The elevation of the social status and the livelihood ofthose living in such places could reduce the criminal activities inthese areas. Economic empowerment could be through the provision offood, clothing and funds (Siegel, 2010). Lack of funds fromgovernment officials causes underdevelopment in these places. Theoccupants of the socially disorganized neighborhoods do not haverepresentatives in the government offices. As a result, no one raisestheir issues or problems in the official state meetings (Siegel,2010).

Inconclusion, Shaw and McKay came up with this theory in 1942 in anattempt to explain the variance in crime rate in the different partsof cities and towns. According to them, poverty is the cause forpeople’s involvement in violent acts. Individuals only take up thisacts and actions after living in these neighborhoods. Lack ofparental care and also the formation of gangs and illegal groups inthese areas also result in one’s decision to be violent. However,government intervention through the provision of funds could helpreduce the number of crime cases in such regions.


Cullen,F.T &amp Wilcox, P. (2010).Encyclopediaof criminological theories.California:Sage Publications.

McCord,J. (1992). Facts,frameworks and forecasts.New Jersey: Transaction Publishers.

Siegiel,L (2011). Criminology:The Core. Boston:Cengage Learning.

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