Social Disorganisation: The Chicago School argues that deviance is in some sense the measure of the failure of community organisations to function.

Essay by missskitzCollege, Undergraduate May 2004

download word file, 11 pages 4.1 2 reviews

Downloaded 201 times

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...