Social Disorganization, Disorder, Social Cohesion, Informal Controls, and Crime: A Reformulation and Test of Systemic Social Disorganization Theory

Gayle M. Rhineberger, Southwest Missouri State University
Susan M. Carlson, Western Michigan University

In this study, we reformulate the systemic social disorganization models of crime proposed by Bursik and Grasmick (1993) and Sampson, Raudenbush, and Earls (1997), and offer an empirical test of our hypothesized model. Specifically, our model includes traditional indicators of social disorganization (racial/ethnic heterogeneity, socioeconomic status, family disruption, residential stability) as exogenous variables; social and physical disorder, social cohesion, and three levels of informal social control (private, parochial, public) as intervening mechanisms; and official crime counts and crime victimization as dependent variables. Our data come from three sources: a community survey of local residents in three neighborhoiod communities in a mid-size midwestern city, crime counts from the local police department, and census block group data. Based on hierarchial linear modeling, our results will show the impact of disorder and social cohesion on the exercise of informal social controls and the relative effects of private, parochial, and public forms of control on crime and victimization.

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Updated 05/20/2006