Social Disorganization Theory

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Written by Andrew Lien & Henry Nunnery

J201 Section: 23607 Theoretical Foundations of Criminal Justice Policies Tuesdays, 06:00P-08:40P Instructor: Mark T. Berg, Ph.D.

The main assumption of Social Disorganization Theory is the ability to explain why crime committed by lower class communities is more prominent than neighborhoods from communities in better economic areas. This theory is the relationship of the destabilization of urban communities and neighborhoods through Shaw and McKay’s study (Quoted in Siegal, 2010) that used the analysis of Ernest Burgess’s Concentric Zones Model. This model generates ideas that the closer to “zone 2”, individuals in a community have more stress factors that they are burdened with; while individuals who generated higher pay moved further away from the center of “zone 2” and transitioned into “zone 3” leaving behind only those without the means to support a healthy community behind (Siegal, 2010). These factors also can apply to zones four and five. One other assumption this theory is trying to stress, is the concern that the more mobile people are in an area, the more crime it will precipitate. This theory also assumes that when more people located in a geographical area, there will be more problems with crime. Social Disorganization Theory tries to explain why crime is higher in the neighborhoods that tend to be closer to zone one in the concentric zones model than your outer zones. This theory is identifying why street crime or blue-collar crime is more prevalent in the inner zones where there tends to be substandard housing conditions with more underprivileged individuals. It does not take into account individual conditions like age, ethnicity, race or gender. Social Disorganization Theory does not try to explain a particular crime, just crimes committed in certain zones. This theory is not an explanation for white-collar crime because that involves people with above...
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