Pervious research has been focusing urban areas while studying social disorganization theory and community disorganization in relation to crimes. Research shows that 49% of United States population is urbanized while 25% of them live in rural areas. Since 25% population is not a population than can be ignored in such critical studies, researchers needed to focus on specific crime problems and delinquency in rural part of the United States as importantly as in urban areas. Secondly, research has found many similarities in nature and factors related to crimes in both urban and rural areas, and researchers have come to conclusion that crime and delinquency theories equally apply to rural and urban populations. Based on such findings and to establish the previous findings, as well as to extend them to full range of populations, Osgood and Chambers (2000) study the county level youth violence to test the social disorganization theory’s applicability to non-metropolitan communities.

To conclude on the issue, the researchers proposed their hypotheses that: rates of juvenile violence will be positively related to residential instability, rates of juvenile violence will be positively related to ethnic heterogeneity, rates of juvenile violence will be positively related to family disruption, rates of juvenile violence will be positively related to low economic status, rates of juvenile violence will be positively related to population density, and that rates of juvenile violence will be higher in communities closer to urban areas. The authors considered four states of US (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Nebraska) for county level analysis. A total of 264 counties with population ranging between 560 and 98,000 were analyzed with an average of 10,000. Measure of delinquency was taken as number of arrests of juveniles age 11 to 17 during 1989 to 1993. Ethnic heterogeneity was measured as proportion of household occupied by whites to those occupied by non-whites. Female household expressed as a proportion of all households with children was taken as a measure of family disruption and similarly other measures have been defined explicitly in the paper. The analysis found that factors of social disorganization theory are applicable to rural areas in a similar manner as they are urban areas with very little differences. Thus, theory of social disorganization studied in relation to urban areas can be generalized to non-metropolitan areas with much confidence.



da Silva, B. F. A. (2014). SOCIAL DISORGANIZATION AND CRIME: Searching for the Determinants of Crime at the Community Level. Latin American Research Review, 49(3), 218-230.

Da-Silva (2014) refers to previous research which explained the differential rates of crimes among neighborhoods to be related to the ability of neighborhoods to control and regulate themselves. Similarly previous research also found that rate of crime is associated with a community’s ability to negotiate with external agencies such as police and other law enforcement authorities. This local control was further researched by Sampson and his colleagues to establish that local social control depends upon the collective efficacy of a community to solve its problems. Researchers found that variations in rates of crimes among neighborhood cannot solely be attributed to aggregated demographic characteristics of individuals. They further added that low crime rates can be achieved if community residents share common values and take actions to control their local activities. Other researchers found that lack of collective efficacy can lead to illegitimate opportunity structures and dysfunctional strategies.

Da-Silva (2014) apply formal rules of Sampson and Groves using data from Belo Horizonte victimization survey and those from 2000 Brazilian Census and the Military Police to test social disorganization theory and to find that crime rate differences are community level effects. This study used census tract as the unit of analysis, therefore variables measures were aggregated at the level of census tract. The Belo Horizonte comprised a total of 2563 census tracts with an average of 248 residents per tract. While the census survey considered a sample of 200 tracts for the collection of data. These included 148 common tracts, 26 special (violent) tracts and 26 special (non-violent) tracts. Data was collected on friendship network indicator, density of social ties indicator, organizational participation, risk exposure, risk habit, income and other factors of social disorganization through questionnaires.

An analysis of the data found that social disorganization theory holds for Brazilian context the same as it did for United States and hence the social disorganization model can be generalized to Brazilian context. The authors also found that differences in crime rates among different communities are due to community level factors.