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Social Disorganization Theory Research Papers

Social disorganization theory research papers reveal that the theory in relation to poverty and crime was first described by Henry McKay and Clifford R. Shaw.  They suggested that residents of impoverished neighborhoods or decaying urban areas are eager to relocate and take the first opportunity to do so.  Social Disorganization TheorySince the population is transient, no one has permanent roots, a situation which is manifested in a lack of desire to improve the neighborhood.  Since social institutions can no longer function, their ability to regulate behavior is shattered, and residents experience conflict and despair.  Antisocial behavior flourishes in this environment.  One indicator of community deterioration is a high level of unemployment.  Lack of work destabilizes households, which in turn increases the likelihood that these households will include children who place a high premium on violence and aggression.


  • Social disorganization theory holds that deviance arises out of an atmosphere in which there is no normative constraint.  
  • Social rules fail to influence the individual, the individual believes that anything is possible and deviance results.
  • Social disorganization theory contends that the organization and order of a society leads to a cohesive integration of customs, a greater sense of tolerance, and higher levels of esteem in individuals, all of which works to make people feel more content, and therefore less willing to act in ways that are considered deviant by the society, including crime.
  • Social disorganization theory has observed the highest rates of deviant and criminal behavior in urban settings, which are often areas that are in a state of organizational transition and disorder.

While social disorganization theory serves to provide a more sociological understanding of crime manifestation, it does little to offer more than a marginal understanding of individual behavior. This theory describes the environment that makes criminal behavior more prevalent and less harshly perceived, but it does not explain the more individualized motivations that become factors in leading one to criminal behavior. While the high manifestation of crime in this setting is explained, it does not distinguish between individuals in meaningful ways, which allow the criminologist to understand what makes one person act criminally and another not act that way.

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