Article

Social Disorganization

Andres F. Rengifo

in Criminology

ISBN: 9780195396607
Published online December 2009 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0008
Social Disorganization

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Social disorganization is a theoretical perspective that explains ecological differences in levels of crime based on structural and cultural factors shaping the nature of the social order across communities. This approach narrowed the focus of earlier sociological studies on the covariates of urban growth to examine the spatial concentration and stability of rates of criminal behavior. According to the social disorganization framework, such phenomena are triggered by the weakened social integration of neighborhoods because of the absence of self-regulatory mechanisms, which in turn are due to the impact of structural factors on social interactions or the presence of delinquent subcultures. The former process defines disorganization as the reflection of low levels of social control generated by socioeconomic disadvantage, residential turnover, and population heterogeneity; the latter highlights the convergence of conflicting cultural standards in poor neighborhoods and the emergence of group behavior linked to criminality. Research on communities and crime has generally been inspired by these two approaches, although the most prevalent formulation emphasizes the association between aggregate rates of crime and delinquency and the structural nature of community-based social controls. Overall, the social disorganization perspective has benefited from increasing scholarly attention in the form of further specification of the ecological mechanisms linking attributes of communities to aggregate levels of crime, the modeling of relationships across levels of analysis (“neighborhood effects”), and heightened attention to the operationalization and measurement of key variables.

Article.  4542 words. 

Subjects: Criminology and Criminal Justice ; Criminal Justice ; Criminology

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