Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice

pp 4237-4245

Race and Ethnicity in Social Disorganization Theory

  • April FernandesAffiliated withUniversity of Washington Email author 
  • , Suzanna RamirezAffiliated withThe University of Queensland
  • , Robert D. CrutchfieldAffiliated withUniversity of Washington


Race and ethnicity were central to the early formulations of Social Disorganization Theory, and consideration of these social categories remains significant in contemporary criminological research. In what came to be known as the Chicago School, scholars took Durkheimian conceptions of social solidarity and social disruption and created what today is known as Disorganization Theory to explain changes that were happening in the city around them. Many transitions were occurring in Chicago, as well as other Midwestern and Northeastern cities, but one of the most important of those was dramatic demographic shifts in the population as a result of migration. While earlier streams of immigrants to the United States came predominantly from Western and Northern Europe with physical features, cultural practices, and patterns of behavior that were not too dissimilar from the native population, the latter part of the nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries saw an increasing nu ...

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