Social Disorganisation Theory and Rural Crime

Joseph F. Donnermeyer, The Ohio State University
Patrick C. Jobes, University of New England
Elaine Margaret Barclay, University of New England

This paper extends research on rural crime beyond North America by analysing associations between census measures of community structures and officially reported crime in rural New South Wales (Australia) within the framework of Social Disorganisation theory. Data were draw from 122 geographic regions that conform closely to non-metropolitan rural areas that are not adjacent to SMSAs. Cluster analyses further indicated that those clusters have distinct patterns of crime. The distributions of crime are explained through a social disorganisation orientation. More cohesive and integrated community structures had less crime. One highly disorganised type of small community had extremely high crime. These analyses demonstrate how specific social structures are highly linked to rural crime. The paper concludes with a discussion of Social Disorganization theory as a heuristic for understanding the relationship between social change and crime in rural areas of developed countries.

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Updated 05/20/2006