Effectiveness of Social Disorganization Theory in Explaining Criminal Behavior

Effectiveness of Social Disorganization Theory in Explaining Criminal Behavior

Regarding the theory, the questions focuses on the effectiveness of the theory, in explain the context of criminal behavior. According to Sampson and Groves (2009), there are effective criteria, which can be used to evaluate theories. These criteria evaluate whether the theory is making sense in crime explanation and whether its results are true and valid. These criteria include logical consistence, testability, scope, parsimony, and empirical variability.

For the logical consistency criteria, the theory of logical consistence is able to make some sense. It also has logical consistent assumptions. Considering the scope criteria, the social disorganization theory is able to cover a wide range of phenomena. Its scope lays a effective background to critically analyze criminal behavior. With regard to the parsimony, the theory is cheap to understand as the name of the name of the theory itself creates an impression. For testability, the theory of social disorganization is not restricted to its scientific values. It can also be tested through research. Its empirical variability is illustrated by the study of Shaw and McKey as well as more recent researches in its support.

Criticism of the theory

There has been significant criticism regarding this theory. The first criticism of the Shaw and Mackay work was that their theory does not give full attention to the cultural and ethnic factors in its analysis. The opponents of the theory advocate that some criminal activities may be encouraged by the ethnicities. In such circumstances, the committed crime or wrong may not be considered a crime; within the particular cultural environment, it was committed.

In another criticism, the theory of social disorganization advocates that a neighborhood experiencing economic instability and decline have a high level of criminal activities. However, the research does not give the picture of the trend of criminal activities, according to economic advancement from the centre of the city outwards (Steenbeek and Hipp, 2011).

Other proponents of the theory argued that the theory does not address the high percentage of nondelinquents observed in the many delinquent areas. They conclude that if this theory is to be considered as a major delinquency contributor, then it should address the high percentage of nondelinquents observed in the delinquent areas. Further, the theory applied the official court records to measure the rate of delinquency. As compared to the unofficial delinquency measure, this measure is considered to lower percentage. To sum it, this theory has only considered the social causes of delinquency which are only concentrated in a certain one area.


From the above discussion, the theory of social delinquency theory is a concept explaining the reason behind crime and delinquency. It advocates that the rate of criminal activities is a function of social neighborhood; gut not the characteristic of an individual. Inability of the community to control the actions of young people in the society maintains high rate of crime in affected areas. The theory meets complete effectiveness according evaluation criteria. However, opponents of the theory have criticized the theory on several aspects.

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