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Social Organisation and Social Disorganisation

  • Date Submitted: 10/14/2013 02:09 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 32.7 
  • Words: 1797
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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 which acceptable and unacceptable behaviour is judged.   A society is described as being socially organised when there is consensus on norms and values, a strong cohesion between members and social interaction proceeds in an orderly manner.

Conversely, a society is described as socially disorganised when there is a breakdown in its social cohesion, collapse in social control or no alignment amongst members.   Cohesion and implementation of common values is not possible in environments where social control has declined and common values are absent.   Instead, a pattern of delinquency is allowed to develop.   The concept of social disorganisation is based on three variables:   poverty, residential mobility and racial heterogeneity (Jones 2001:129).  

Clifford Shaw and Henry McKay conducted research on urban areas experiencing rapid changes in social and economic structure or “zones of transition”.   These were poor areas characterised by low rents, deteriorating buildings and a high concentration of delinquents.   Shaw and McKay concluded that the delinquency was a result of sociological factors as opposed to individual pathology or ethnicity and went on to claim that socially disorganised neighbourhoods perpetuated crime by culturally transmitting delinquent behavioural patterns....


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