Chapter 9: Social Disorganization Theories

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What is the historical context of Social Disorganization Theories?
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1) Research on urban patterning and development was undertaken during the 1920s 2) This work focused on social conflict between older, more established residents and recent immigrants 3) Moral statisticians attempted to find spatial patterns in crime and other forms of social pathology 4) This helped lay the groundwork for the Chicago School and the whole field of Criminology 5) Sociologists like Emilie Durkheim and Georg Simmel were also key influences on the Chicago School.
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What is the assumption of the social disorganization theories?
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1) Humans are thought to be blank slates 2) Individual factors are important but social and environmental factors are more important 3) Grounded in a conflict orientation
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What is the problem focus, scope and level of explanation of the social disorganization theories?
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1) The problem focus is crime rates 2) The scope of these theories is limited to street level crime 3) The level of explanation of these theories is a macro structural level
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What are some key terms of the social disorganization theories?
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Social disorganization Community control Collective efficacy
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What is the concentric zone theory?
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5 zones 1. Central Business District 2. Transitional Zone (zones in transition most prone to crime) 3. Working Class Zone 4. Residential Zone 5. Commuter Zone Closer to center, more crime (Recent Immigrant Groups)
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What is the theory of community control?
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When community control breaks down in neighborhood, levels of crime will rise 1) Private control – interpersonal relationships 2) Parochial control – informal control such as family or school First two levels help individuals integrate into the community 3) Public control – the community’s ability to secure public goods that are allocated outside of the neighborhood. – 2 types 1) economic resources provided by municipalities and private/public decision making agencies – 2) law enforcement resources derived through relationship with local police department
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What is Sampson’s collective efficacy theory?
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1) Application of Bandura´s self efficacy theory to the neighborhood level Collective Efficacy broken into 1) Collectivity through Social Cohesion 2) Efficacy through Social Control Together informal social control to prevent, reduce, and respond to crime
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What are some strategies based on Sampson’s collective efficacy theory?
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Strategies to control crime include: 1) Monitor groups of young people and share information about their behavior 2) Increase willingness of residents to intervene 3) Guard public space from gang exploitation 4) C.E. can also explain other health-related social problems like asthma, low birth weight, and heat-wave deaths
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What is some of the research that has been conducted with Social Disorganization Theories
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1) Models of growth and development to Chicago and other cities 2) Measure community participation and poverty to assess how these affected crime rates 3) Examined changes in communities over time
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What are some practical consequences of the social disorganization theories
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1) Large scale community projects (e.g. Chicago Area Project) involving community building, neighborhood safety, housing, and economic development 2) Localized politics with involvement with residents
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What are some criticisms of social disorganization theories?
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– Assumption that organization is normal – Ecological fallacy – one cannot make inferences about indviduals with aggregate level data – How these theories fail to account how the powerful can shape urban development and this relation with crime rates in a city

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