Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: November 23, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412959193 | Print ISBN: 9781412959186 | Online ISBN: 9781412959193| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Shaw, Clifford R., and Henry D. McKay: Social Disorganization Theory
Charis E. Kubrin
Originally developed by Clifford R. Shaw and Henry D. McKay, two researchers from the University of Chicago, social disorganization is one of the most popular criminological theories today. Unlike most other theories, it is concerned with understanding why crime rates are higher in some communities than others. Thus, it focuses on the macro-level distribution of crime rates across areas, not on why any one individual may be more or less likely to engage in criminal acts than another. As the name implies, the theory posits that communities can be classified on a continuum of disorganization, from low to high. According to the theory, some communities are highly disorganized and experience more crime compared to other communities that are less disorganized and experience less crime. The key to combating crime, then, is to reduce levels of social disorganization. Just how that can be accomplished is explained shortly but first it is ...