Violence and Aggression in Socially Disorganized Neighborhoods

Renee Zahnow, Rebecca Leigh Wickes

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Social disorganization theory suggests that violence and aggression cluster in neighborhoods characterized by poverty, residential instability, and racial or ethnic diversity. These neighborhood factors create opportunities for violence by disrupting neighborhood networks necessary for the informal regulation of crime. In this chapter, we chart the development of social disorganization theory from early explanations of the spatial concentration of delinquency in 20th‐century Chicago to the development of the systemic model of community regulation and collective efficacy theory. We also consider the influence of social disorganization theory on community crime prevention initiatives. We conclude by discussing the changing nature of communities and the associated challenges for promoting community engagement and the development of informal social control at the local level.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Wiley Handbook of Violence and Aggression
Subtitle of host publicationDefinition, Conception, and Development
EditorsPeter Sturmey
Place of PublicationMilton QLD Australia
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781119057567
ISBN (Print)9781119057550
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sep 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • aggression; crime; disadvantage; disorder; disorganization; diversity; informal social control; neighborhood violence

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