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Social Organisation And Social Disorganisation Essay

1816 words - 8 pages


Early in the 20th century, the Chicago School of Sociology began investigating why certain neighbourhoods within Chicago have a higher crime rate than others. They were motivated by the causes of crime rates as opposed to why particular individuals commit crime. They believed that society creates the platform for crime and individuals are merely the instruments for carrying out criminal activity.

By contrast, a socially organised environment is that which functions in accordance with their recognized or implied purposes. The society develops its own laws which are a code of conduct against ...view middle of the document...

The result of their findings was social disorganisation theory (1942).

2. Definition of Key Concepts
3.1 Social Organisation

Socially organised communities have solidarity (internal consensus on important norms and values), cohesion (strong bonds among neighbours), and integration (social interaction among residents), which collectively help to lower crime (Kubrin 2009:227).

3.2 Social Disorganisation

Social disorganisation can be defined as the inability of a community structure to realise the common values of its residents and maintain effective social control (Bartollas 2003:96).

The three variables which are central to social disorganisation are poverty, residential mobility and racial heterogeneity (Jones 2001:129). These independent variables lead to social disorganisation and the absence of common values resulting in a reduction of social control and ultimately allowing for crime and delinquency to develop.

3. Social Organisation versus Social Disorganisation

In order to understand the concept of social disorganisation and its effect on crime and delinquency, it is important to have an understanding of what contributes to social organisation.

In organised communities, there is evidence of (1) informal surveillance, or the casual but active observation of neighbourhood streets that is engaged by individuals during daily activities, (2) movement-governing rules, or the avoidance of areas in or near neighbourhoods viewed as unsafe, and (3) direct intervention, or the questioning of strangers and residents of the neighbourhood about suspicious activities, chastening adults and admonishing children for behaviour that is defined as unacceptable (Greenberg, Rohe & Williams, 1982). Socially organised communities displaying the above characteristics have high levels of informal social control and lower rates of crime.

In direct contrast, social disorganisation can be defined as the inability of local communities to realise the common values of their residents or solve commonly experienced problems (Bursik, 1988; Kornhauser, 1978:63). Socially disorganised communities are characterised by limited resources in the way of healthcare, education and social services. In addition, the high mobility amongst residents does not allow for integration, trust and a sense of community to develop. The heterogeneous aspect meant that people of various cultures and varying value systems reside in close proximity.

This lack of cohesion, integration and collaboration lead to ineffective social control and allow for crime and delinquency to develop. Social disorganisation does not only lead to a collapse in informal social control in communities and families, but it also reduces the capacity of a community to protect itself from crime.

In the first half of the 20th century, a group of socialists at the University of Chicago undertook to research into the structure of the city of Chicago and the cultural...

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