Social disorganisation theory has its history dating back to the early twentieth Century. It is based on the belief that crime and delinquency are associated with the absence or presence of communal institutions where communal institutions can refer to schools, churches or even local governments…
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The latter serves to reinforce cohesion in society and curbs crimes or delinquency. Social organisation was limited to small communal groups such as local councils but was later applied to larger groups such as nations, continents and the like. (Kapsis, 1978)
Thomas and Znanieki (1918) explain that the social disorganisation theory was initially applied in the City of Chicago by psychologist working for the University of Chicago; this was in the early twentieth century. The City of Chicago was quite conducive for the application and study of this theory because it had been associated with numerous migration cases from different parts of the worlds at that time. The social cohesion that had been witnessed in that City was now a thing of the past because there were numerous changes occurring. The sociologists claimed that arrival of immigrant populations within the City led to a breakdown of some of the well know social rules that had prevented occurrence of crime.
Edwin Sutherland (1924) did extensive work in the field of social disorganisation through his book 'Principles of criminology'. In his book, he starts with the values that make peasant societies more stable and less prone to crime or delinquency. Such societies are harmonious and influences are derived from consistent sources. However, with the introduction of western societies, peasant societies were transformed by capitalist idea. Communal values no longer took precedence and instead individualistic tendencies took over. The relationships that initially dispensed cultural values and traditions disintegrated and there was 'disorganisation'. He also believed that systemic (organised and persistent) cases of crime could be overcome if society was rearranged to deal with it. But because society is random and individualistic, cases of crime will continue to occur.
Henry Mackay and Clifford Shaw (1929) also collaborated in this filed of criminology. They were also members of the University of Chicago. In their research, they reaffirmed that there were links between the level of social 'organisation' and crime rates. They conducted research and found out that cases of delinquency and crime were more popular in areas nearer to Chicago city than those further away. They also concluded that societies with high rates of delinquency had equal proportions of adult crimes. According to the two, high crime rates were prevalent in areas where there was physical deterioration. They also reported that some location were associated with high crime rates regardless of the fact that their populations were changing. Their explanations for these were that populations were faced with certain social challenges irrespective of their biological predispositions. Consequently, those social challenges would lead to high crime rates even when those societies had minimal cases of immigrant arrival or population changes.
The two sociologists put forward the argument that traditional norms were disoriented when there was introduction of commerce. This made social systems weaken and with time, they would eventually disappear. This could eventually lead to higher cases of crime and maybe even permissiveness towards it. Sutherland (1939) argued that there was a direct relationship between two aspects; social disorganisation in society and crime organisation. He asserted that the latter was propagated by the
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“Social Disorganisation Theory of Criminology Essay”, n.d. https://studentshare.org/miscellaneous/1525862-social-disorganisation-theory-of-criminology.
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