Social Disorganization

Topics: Youth Violence

Social and Economic characteristics shape under-class communities. Sub-cultures in these communities will typically have parenting practices that hinder children’s intellectual and behavioral development. Children in these areas are prone to having problems with the law.

Social Disorganization

In the 1920-30s, the social disorganization theory developed by the Chicago School links high crime rates to localized city urban areas. It refers to the inability of community-based control of its residents more likely to engage in illegal activities. Sampson (1986) suggested that traditional social disorganization variables may influence community crime rates when considering the effects of levels of family disruption.

Disadvantaged communities with poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, and the lack of schooling have taken their toll on the families living there. These neighborhoods have been populated by new immigrants. While race or ethnicity is not considered the cause of crime, social disorganization tells of the collapse of community-based control like churches, schools, and local organizations being held responsible. I feel that the absence of family processes is where we lose our youth to crime.

Sampson (1992) attempted to consolidate the empirical findings that relate social disorganization to family processes and then to delinquency and youth violence. Social disorganization, directly and indirectly, influences the care of children and other family processes, and ultimately, rates of delinquency and crime. We are failing our children when there are cyclical clues that we need to look more into family processes. Shaw and McKay (1942) viewed the economic well-being of a community as a major determinant of variation in rates of delinquency.

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Sampson, Raudenbush, and Earls (1997) examined how social disorganization influences violence and crime, via its effects on collective efficacy. Neighborhoods with high residential mobility, family disruption, and scarce local friendship lead our unsupervised youth to delinquency and street crime.

Strain Theory

Social structures play a role in the development of our youth and put pressure on them to achieve wealth and social status even in impoverished communities. This strain negatively affects the way individuals and our youth cope. The strain theory is a sociology and criminology theory developed in 1938 by Robert Merton. The problem, according to Merton (1938), is that despite the widespread belief in the possibility of upward social mobility, the American social structure limits individuals’ access to the goal of economic success through legitimate means. This can be seen in younger adults trying to achieve money, status, and respect. Many juveniles believe this will improve their outcomes but essentially failed to achieve their goals. But there isn’t enough study to show how individuals can cope with strain or its impact. Agnew’s (1985 and 1992) general straseveralin theory posits that strain leads to negative emotions, which may lead to several outcomes, including delinquency. These fathe factors increase the likelihood that communities and their adolescents will turn to delinquent adaptations for example drugs, illegal behavior, and violence.

Subculture Theory

Another concept developed by sociology scholars from the Chicago School is the subculture theory. The subculture theory argues that juvenile delinquents whose views differ from normal society could be prevented from becoming a criminal if they were understood. Cohen argues that working-class boys join deviant subcultures because of frustration from being denied status in society. So, the lack of respect from mainstream society will now be achieved by committing crimes condemned by mainstream society.

The theories emphasize communities, groups, and gangs central to the outcome of the juveniles and their connection to the crime. They also show that these problems are distinct in impoverished communities. Although these adolescent offenders are associated with low-level street crimes only, the theories illustrate how bad values are being transmitted down from generation to generation. This conduct by the deviants is seen to be normal and understood.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Where the three theories are weak is at showing us the difference in how groups commit crimes compared to the individuals. Cohen concludes that juvenile frustration is from being unable to achieve and that their actions are thought of as consequential by the group. Adolescents are being predestined to have heavy influence from their residential neighborhoods and peers, with little consideration of autonomy or free will. The Shaw and McKay theory fails to cover elements that would be missed without doing empirical studies. We cannot put all the emphasis on schools, churches, or local organizations. Policymakers have failed with their programs for decades because they are not run by people with ties to those neighborhoods and individuals. Family processes are key to making communities healthy again, mentally and emotionally.

Although all three were chosen from sociological theories, the social disorganization theory resonated with me. I was able to envision firsthand the transformations of my old neighborhood and its rapid decay in my youth. When the change started, I can remember how residents and neighbors stopped engaging in activities together. As I grew older I could see the change in the younger kids and the community, to be almost unrecognizable.

Script Kiddies Theory

My theory is named the “Script Kiddies” and their cybercrimes. Cybercrime is when a computer is the objective target of crime or is used as a tool for malicious online activity to commit a crime. With the rapid advancement of technology and the Internet, increased cybercrime has made law enforcement investigations difficult to enforce because of its instantaneous nature. There have been few studies on computer crime and since the term “hack” has only been around since the 1950s and 1960s, it is relatively new. This shows the perception the young have about hacking and its rewards for illegal activity. Society has failed to illustrate the retribution of these acts. Teenagers and young adults are using available computer tools written by experienced hackers to infect computers and damage websites. There is a false stereotype of these teens being an alienated and isolated group only connected to their computers is false. These script kiddies put importance into groups of hackers to become recognized in social circles or more recently theft. Many of these teens are misunderstood between being an individual with an interest in how things work and the ones with their justification for malicious intent. Law enforcement is struggling to find ways of tracking and prosecuting cybercrime, and parents cannot teach technology ethics since most cannot navigate their computers. Different from other theories because it focuses on the curious teen to be looked at as just a teen, and not a criminal by the legal system. The culture around hacking and the teens involved need to be better understood, and then their behaviors can be reformed into an outlet for computer science curiosity or technology enthusiasts.

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Social Disorganization. (2022, May 14). Retrieved from

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