Social Disorganisation: The Chicago School Argues That Deviance Is In Some Sense The Measure Of The Failure Of Community Organisations To Function.

2706 words - 11 pages

The Chicago School focused on the rapid changes occurring in the city of Chicago in the 1920's through to the 1960's endeavouring to find the cause of deviant behaviour. At the time, Chicago was an ideal place for this study with the widespread migration, immigration and industrialisation. Researchers recognised that change was inevitable. Because of this the Chicago School played a major role in explaining deviance. Chicagoans believed that deviant behaviour had no connection with biological or psychological problems. It was argued that there was a connection between these changes of a modern society in the community and the rising rate of deviance, deviant behaviour was presumed to be caused by the environment that the deviants were accustomed to. Sociologists from the Chicago School used a variety of research methods to come up with their theories: case study, qualitative research and participant observation. The Chicago School theory was based on the assumption that deviance is caused by the inability for a community's organisations to function, this has been labelled as 'social disorganisation'. Sociologists found that social problems were centred in certain areas within the community, the 'transitional zone'. This indicates that it is one's physical environment that is the main contributor to deviant behaviour rather than personal or genetic characteristics. Chicagoans also developed the concept of social ecology which was the study of interrelationships between human groups and their physical environment. Research in this area was led by sociologists such as Park (1925) and burgess (1925) and was very useful in reference to the study of deviancy.Liska & Messner (1999) stated that to find supporting evidence for the Chicago School theory researchers used comparisons of city life to rural life, suburban life to slum life and so on, "variation in rates of behaviour across different social groupings (small towns versus cities; poor, inner city neighbourhoods versus more affluent neighbourhoods). (Liska, A. & Messner, S. 1999, p. 62) Research was undertaken to study the link between ecological processes and culture. Chicagoans believed that both ecological processes and culture contributed to the social order of communities. Social behaviour including deviancy were found to be spatially distributed between communities.The Chicago School theory proposes that there is a link between crime rates and transient areas within the community. This theory was based on the assumption that biological and psychological problems do not in fact lead to crime and deviant behaviour, causes for this behaviour are described as being caused by the individual's immediate environment. Rapid and significant social change causes a phenomenon researches refer to as social disorganisation. Environmental factors such as; urbanisation, migration, industrialisation and immigration all contribute to undermine traditional forms of social control represented by the...

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