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NCJ Number: 202581 Find in a Library
Title: New Directions in Social Disorganization Theory
Journal: Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency  Volume:40  Issue:4  Dated:November 2003  Pages:374-402
Author(s): Charis E. Kubrin; Ronald Weitzer
Date Published: November 2003
Page Count: 29
Type: Research (Theoretical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article discusses the new directions of social disorganization theory.
Abstract: Social disorganization theory focuses on the effects of “kinds of places” or different types of neighborhoods in creating conditions favorable or unfavorable to crime and delinquency. Social disorganization refers to the inability of a community to realize common goals and solve chronic problems. According to the theory, poverty, residential mobility, ethnic heterogeneity, and weak social networks decrease a neighborhood’s capacity to control the behavior of people in public, and increase the likelihood of crime. Several recent methodological innovations that enhance researchers’ ability to test key propositions and refine causal models relevant to social disorganization theory are described. Dynamic models allow for the measurement of changes over time in neighborhood ecological structures and crime. Reciprocal effects between social disorganization and crime (how community organization shapes crime and how crime shapes community organization) are discussed, as well as neighborhood contextual effects on individual outcomes, and spatial interdependence (how adjacent neighborhoods may affect each other’s level of disorganization and crime). Social disorganization theory would be greatly enriched by empirical examination of the role of culture, formal social control, and urban political-economic forces in influencing the amount of neighborhood crime. Findings from a growing number of studies underscore the relevance of neighborhood cultural factors. Since a neighborhood does not exist in a vacuum, it is crucial to assess external influences along with intra-neighborhood structures and processes. Given increasing deindustrialization of central cities, heightened middle-class mobility, growing segregation and isolation of the poor, and the growth of immigrant population in most American cities, social disorganization theory’s relevance is even stronger today than when it was first proposed many decades ago. Few studies have examined the possible effects of these developments. Most social disorganization work has focused on urban areas without considering the applicability of the theory to nonurban areas. 9 notes, 93 references
Main Term(s): Crime causes theory; Social organization
Index Term(s): Class comparisons; Criminology theory evaluation; Cultural influences; Organizational theories; Political influences; Social change; Social cohesion
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