Social Disorganization

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 12 October 2016

Social Disorganization

Social disorganization is a term that is not used in a person’s everyday vocabulary, nor is it something that is frequently discussed over dinner or during typical conversations. Despite this fact, it is something that takes place on a daily basis. Social disorganization is hard to define, yet easy to understand. A simple way to gain understanding in regards to social disorganization is to define its opposition: social organization. This is why there are several meanings associated with social disorganization.

For some readers it may be difficult to dissect, comprehend, and articulate the theory which is “The lack of control by traditional institutions over individuals initiated social change known as Social Disorganization. The social disorganization theory comes from the Chicago school of sociology in the early 1920’s and can be defined as the decline of influence of existing social rules of behavior upon individuals within a group” (Wong, 2011, para. ). Wong’s assertion gives readers a better understanding of the theory as a whole. However, as previously mentioned, to perhaps better understand social disorganization look at; social organization. It is based on the idea that “The concept of social organization provides an important framework for understanding families in the context of communities and focuses our attention on norms, networks, and associated processes that typify community life.

We discuss the significance of community for understanding family outcomes, discuss challenges in defining community context, define social organization and feature several of its associated components and their linkages, and assess research designs that inform the study of social organization”( Bowen, Mancini, & Martin, 2005, p. 1). Once an individual becomes familiar with the term, where the term originated, and why the term was brought about, then the individual will have a more keen understanding about social disorganization. The theory was combined with misbehavior by two sociologists. The link between social disorganization and delinquency was associated with the work of two sociologists, Clifford R. Shaw and Henry D. McKay. Affiliated with the University of Chicago and the Illinois Institute for Social Research, Shaw and McKay were primarily interested in crime and delinquency” (Wong, 2011, para. 2). This gave the social disorganization theory a brand new viewpoint, in regards to who and how social disorganization affected people within urban neighborhoods. The study’s original focus was on African-American communities and how individuals in certain areas interacted with their neighbors.

Social disorganization theory was established amongst sociological and criminological sources. This theory was constructed so that accomplished scholars would have a better chance at tackling the significant unobserved vulnerabilities in studying African-American outcomes and achievements (Madyun, 2011, para. 1). This means researchers chose to study the results and accomplishments within a predominantly African-American community. According to Ernest Mowrer (1941), social disorganization is broken down into two different logical premises labeled as condition and process.

The condition definition states that “social disorganization has been analyzed in terms of social problems, social pathology, and social disease” (para. 2). This means that individuals suffer from a phobia of interacting with people or lack the skills to interact with others. The process is defined as “a stage in the larger process of institutional growth and decay” (Mowrer, 1941, Para. 8). The process is basically stating that individuals undergo some sort of progression within society and, at some point, falloff.

These definitions are critical in regards to social disorganization theory, solely because when conducting a research some readers may consider the materials to be biased. When gathering information from authors who have written articles or conducted studies on social disorganization, readers must consider the time frame in which the original data was collected. Some readers may find that the previous researchers were curious. Social disorganization is something that needs to be addressed and should be taken into account in all aspects of life, whether one lives in a lower class, middle class, or an upper class neighborhood.

No matter where a person lives, they are experiencing some form of social disorganization. Social disorganization may have a more detrimental outcome on those who are unaware or uneducated about the theory. This theory is something that every human being has encountered no matter where they reside and what their economic status may be. The focus of this paper will revolve around social disorganization theory as a whole. Background Summary Social disorganization’s primary focus has been observed within the urban community, concentrating on the undesirable events that take place within these neighborhoods.

These observations emphasize on the monetary & psychological status of African-American individuals who reside in these areas. These studies were conducted to determine whether poverty or other underlying issues were causing individuals within these neighborhoods to dissocialize themselves from others. According to Cossman, Porter, and Rader (2011), researchers in the late 90 are primarily focused on the neighborhoods that were most likely to influence anxiety in correlation to crime (para. 7). Growing up in the 90’s is enough evidence to prove this theory to be true.

While conducting research on the theory, scholars may find that it is fixated on crime that is reported in particular areas of urban communities. Some key contributors may be the lack of public direction within these habitual crime afflicted communities. “Social disorganization theories argue that communities with certain characteristics—those in which internal and external social control are absent or weakened—are more likely to have crime, fear of crime, and other social problems”(Cossman, Porter, & Rader, 2011, para. 7).

Basically saying that without some sort of disciplinary structure in tact circumstances may be worse in these urban neighborhoods. The people that are affected the most by social disorganization are the youth. Young adolescents today are faced with many obstacles at a very early age. According to Paul R. Vowell (2007), the parental guidance aspect of the social union is connected to the improvement of obedience, which is established in the early stages of life, mainly through parental disciplinary practices and supervision” (para. 1).

Some of today’s youth are raising themselves because there may be only one parent present or no parental supervision in the household at all. There are a lot of single parent households; most single parents work late night shifts which makes it hard to monitor the whereabouts of their children. This alone can lead to disturbing behavior and lack of social skills amongst peers as well as authority figures. Without the supervision or appropriate teaching of an adult or some sort of structure in place, leaves a lot of time for mischievous acts to be committed.

Lack of adult supervision also tends to lead young adolescents seeking guidance from their peers, this is when their peers become their family and sometimes leads to the formation of a gang. Some young adolescents who do not have parental guidance may also display disobedient behavior to authority figures, i. e. teachers, elderly, and police officers; just to name a few. However, the location can also play a major a role in this hypothesis. It has been stated that neighborhoods do matter in regards to the upbringing of young children.

Susan Ennett and Dawn Witherspoon conducted a study titled, “An Examination of Social Disorganization and Pluralistic Neighborhood Theories with Rural Mothers and Their Adolescents. ” This research focuses mainly on the strengths rather than shortfalls of the social disorganization theory, giving a whole other outlook. Ennett and Witherspoons approach is a rather clever one, they were curious about the positive aspects about the theory. Their approach consists of gathering data such demographics, neighborhood disadvantage, neighborhood risk, neighborhood informal social, and neighborhood cohesion and trust.

These are all very critical information in regards to the theory, seeing that it gives some insight as to what the researchers were trying to determine. This particular study offers some very informational statistical data. (See appendix 1). This data provides readers with a mathematical equation that was used to establish a percentage of the mothers and their children within rural neighborhoods. Ennett and Witherspoons approach would lead some readers to believe that the theory is not disorganized or that positive influences can be produced from the theory.

Maria Kaylen and William Alex Pridemore also conducted a study in the rural area which is titled, “A Reassessment of the Association Between Social Disorganization and Youth Violence in Rural areas. ” Their method was assigning rural counties into divisions for a thorough examination to conduct their study. This was set-up to calculate the amount of severe aggressive offenses that occurred within the communities that were chosen to be observed. This particular study took place in the state of Missouri, according to the authors.

Their aim was to determine if rural areas carried the same characteristics as urban areas in terms of social disorganization and youth. “With the similarities that are present, it is expected that the structural background of social disorganization—residential mobility, cultural heterogeneity, family disruption, poverty, and population density—to influence violence in rural and urban settings alike” (Kaylen & Pridemore, 2011, para. 5). This is possible but the actual percentage would differ, due to urban communities being slightly larger than rural communities.

Kaylen and Pridemore’s documentation provides data in reference to their study. Kaylen and Pridemore used hospital statistics to evaluate assault charges and injures, they categorized these offense by age groups ranging from 10-17 and 15-24. Conclusion Reflecting back on the introduction to gain a simple perception of the theory is to do research. There is no definite definition in any of the basic dictionaries. To further understand the theory individuals would have to seek books or scholarly journals to obtain a well-defined definition.

Social disorganization is a very broad topic and is something that should be introduced to children once they become a certain age. Adults should also be aware of this theory so that they’ll have a better understanding of what goes on in their neighborhoods as well as other neighborhoods. This theory suggests that if individuals that live in the same neighborhood had a better affiliation with each other, which alone can prevent some of the inappropriate behavior that is being displayed by the youth in these particular neighborhoods.

There are more single parent households today compared to forty years ago. It is harder to raise children and provide for the household alone in doing such this leaves children with too much unsupervised time on their hands. “A high number of single-parent households, a high rate of residential mobility, a high degree of diversity, and high levels of poverty undermine a community’s ability to establish the ties and generate the resources necessary to influence and maintain expectations” (Madyun, 2011, para. 12). Social disorganization is something that human is encountered with during their lifetime.


  • Subject:

  • University/College: University of California

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 12 October 2016

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