Social Disorganization Theory Explained

Social Disorganization Theory Explained


Social disorganization theory is the description of variations in criminal offences and felonies, across all spheres of society, as a consequence of “institutional disintegration” (Porter,, 2015). It is the order in which our society dwells in explaining why committed crimes persist.

The society we live in is often subject to numerous changes. These changes may affect the systems, institutions (family, marriage, education, etc.), cultures, traditions, and organizations as they occur. As time passes, humans become more inclined to distort the normal line of practices due to discoveries.

Irrespective of the fact, that humanity has achieved great feats in the development of civilizations upon civilizations, they are far from a perfect order which appears to be seemingly unachievable. From inception, man has sought to maintain the perfect order of his dwelling, however, this exploit has not been actualized. Hence, the question of how a society reaches the point of societal disorganization springs into the limelight.

When society is disoriented, certain modifications may have occurred. A shift in the paradigm of various groups or institutions disrupts the equilibrium. In the initial stages, these institutions are harmonious and work together to ensure balance and stability. However, when change occurs, when individuals no longer subscribe to the old ways, there is a clash between conservative individuals and the embracing ones. The clash disorients living and social disorganization occurs. The totality of society’s function no longer exists (Shah, 2017).

For example, the institution of marriage may no longer be seen as an integral part of society’s existence. This may be thought of as disrupting the build of new families or population growth in society.

In a disoriented society, institutions constantly clash, functions are transferred from one group to the other, and e.g. nurseries now take up the role of families (Shah 2017). People become more individualistic: they only want what will benefit them and not society. And finally, roles change. Such is the case with the advent of feminism and the inclusion of women in the workplace and decision-making process.

Although social disorganization may seem like a good thing in terms of evolving thoughts and positive change for the better, there are negatives. There are three types of social disorganization; family, personal, and community.

The change affects all three types. Family disorganization may be subject to divorce and desertion. Personal disorganization may result in the taking up of various crimes. In such cases, a person’s mental health may be at risk. And community disorganization may involve an increase in the overall crime rate and corruption.

Social disorganization theory is linked to crime in society. In places that have more criminal activities crime is inherent and becomes a part of society. The actions of such individuals are transferred to posterity in the area (Shaw and Mckay, 1942).

In other words, the pretexts of disorganization in society are traditionally passed down from generation to generation. The distortion becomes paramount and a solution becomes too farfetched. The family and neighbourhood are prominent actors in this development.

The family is integral in determining social order and disorganization. Families that deviate from the traditional appearance; single-parent and female-headed families all determine the amount of crime in society. Therefore, to maintain social order and equilibrium, family processes are important. The presence of behavioural structures and control lessens the probability of youth crime (Samson, 1986).

The neighbourhood spurs crime in broader ways through decrepit economies and friendship connections. Moving downwards from the family — the basic unit of society — to the neighbourhood, if more families in a particular neighbourhood lack behavioural control, the tendency of crime will be high, thereby affecting families with proper behaviour control standards. In other words, the totality of a neighbourhood affects the quality of youth outcomes.

It is prominent to note that policies implemented also affect social disorganization and its relation to crime. By not focusing on impoverished areas, individuals will be more inclined to commit atrocities for the sake of their well beings. Therefore, leaders must in all ways possible prevent a poor economic status from occurring. By so doing, funds should be allocated to improving the status of families and neighbourhoods, given that quality and intelligent leaders and policymakers are elected to actualize order.

In basic terms, social disorganization is a state of pandemonium that persists in the society and may be caused by natural catastrophes, disobedience of laws, industrialization, a lag in cultural practices, war, and social problems in general.

Individuals must understand social disorganization theory concerning comprehending the occurrences that take place. It equally explains the certain phenomena that occur. Such is the case of poverty, a form of social disorganization.


More importantly, understanding enables individuals to proffer solutions to restore the equilibrium of society, that is, grasping the various links that rest between social disorganization, poor economic statuses, poverty, and social problems which will implicitly lead to moments of order and peace. It will also enable individuals to filter the bad forms of change and embrace the good ones.

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