Social Structure Theories

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Social disorganization theory is the inability of a community structure to realize the common values of its residents and maintain social control. Social disorganization theory suggests those macro social forces, such as migration and segregation, interact with community level factors, such as concentrated poverty and family disruption, to impede social disorganization. It was developed by Clifford R. Shaw and Henry D. Mc Kay during the first half of the twentieth century. Both were farm boys that came to Chicago for higher education. The two men extended the social disorganization theory by focusing on the social characteristics of the community as a cause of delinquency. They view juvenile delinquency as a result from a breakdown of social control among the traditional primary groups, such as families and neighborhoods, because of the social disorganization of the community. Rapid industrialization, urbanization, and immigration processes contributed to the disorganization of the community. Delinquent behavior became an alternative mode of socialization through which youths who were part of disorganization communities were attracted to deviant lifestyles. Shaw and Mc Kay refocused their analyzations from influence of social disorganization of the community to the importance of economics on high rates of delinquency. They found that the economic and occupational structures of the larger society were more influential in the rise of delinquent behavior than was the social life of the local community. They concluded that the reason members of lower class groups remained in the inner city was less a reflection of their newness of arrival and their lack of acculturation to American institutions than it was a function of their class position in society.

Cultural deviance theories view delinquent and criminal behavior as an expression of conformity to cultural values and norms that are in opposition to ... Continue Reading