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Community Structure and Crime: Testing Social-Disorganization Theory

NCJ Number
American Journal of Sociology Volume: 94 Issue: 4 Dated: (January 1989) Pages: 774-802
Date Published
29 pages
The influential theory of community social disorganization by Shaw and McKay has never been directly tested.
To accomplish this, a community-level theory that builds on their original model is formulated and tested. The hypothesis is that low economic status, ethnic heterogeneity, residential mobility, and family disruption all lead to community social disorganization, which in turn leads to increases in crime and delinquency rates. The measurement of a community's level of social organization is in terms of local friendship networks, control of street-corner teenage peer groups, and prevalence of organizational participation. The model is tested twice, with the results from both surveys supporting the theory and showing that between-community variations in social disorganization transmit much of the effect of community structural characteristics on rates of both criminal victimization and criminal offending. 6 tables, 1 figure, 16 notes, 52 references. (Author abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 1989