Social Disorganization and Organized Crime
For a long time, criminologists, law enforcement officers and other stakeholders in the community have been preoccupied with the explanation of causes and sources of crime in society. This is especially organized crime. Many theories and explanations have been proposed to explain this phenomenon. One school of thought is of the view that organized crime and social disorganization are inextricably intertwined. According to Thabit, social disorganization can be conceptualized as the failure and disintegration of social institutions and organizations in the society (Thabit, 2006). These institutions are for example the family, the school, the police and the religious institutions among others. According to the proponents of social disorganization theory, it is noted that this failure is specific to certain communities and neighborhoods in the community. It is especially conspicuous in urban areas, but it can also be found in some rural communities. In urban areas, it is to be found in those localities where the population comes from different social and ethnic backgrounds (Thabit, 2006). This diversity in backgrounds and experiences makes it difficult for the community to act in a unified fashion as far as engagement in communal matters is concerned (Sociology Guide, 2006). Individualism reigns supreme, and community concerns fail to take precedence in the life of the individual. Social solidarity and social consensus is absent in such a community (Sociology Guide, 2006), and this is what comprises social disintegration. As earlier indicated, social disorganization and crime- organized crime in particular- are related. Historical social disorganization in the society has organized crime as one of its consequences. When individualism, anarchy and such other attributes of a disorganized society prevail, individuals find solace in organizations, regardless of whether these organizations are legal or not. When members of the society are in disunity, the self-policing attribute of that society fails, and organized crime reigns. Gangs of criminals start to emerge because the society is unable to consolidate its efforts to fight them. Youths are attracted to such criminal gangs, leading to their perpetuity. The youths are attracted to these gangs in their neighborhoods because the institution of the family has failed in socializing them effectively, and this role has not been assumed by any other institution in the society because they have all failed (Jax, 2007). Organized crime has several criteria that define it. One of them is collaboration of more than three individuals for a period of time in conducting criminal activities. Another is the availability of opportunities in the society that promote such activities, for example the presence of a ready market for counterfeit or other illegal products. Social disorganization, to some extent, does meet some of these criteria and in effect, encourages the evolution of organized crime. For example, lack of self-policing in the society encourages the criminals since their efforts are unfettered. Individualism, an attribute that is related to both organized crime and social disorganization, makes the individuals abandon concerns for the society in pursuit of personal benefits and profits. As a result, they engage in criminal activities like drug peddling and money laundering that is harmful to the society. A disorganized society is replete with social ills such as corruption as individuals seek to optimize their personal gains with no regards to the wellbeing of the society. If such form of corruption permeates the political machines within the community, organized crime tends to develop and thrive (Jax, 2007). One of the techniques employed by organized gangs to survive is the corruption of political officials. Once such officials who have a corrupt personality are compromised, they cannot effectively shield the society from the criminals. They are owned and ran by the criminal gangs. In such an environment, organized crime will tend to flourish and entrench itself. Social disorganization as a perspective in criminology was borrowed from the wider ecological theories. These theories holds that the attitudes of the individual are not so much determined by the inherent personality of that individual, as by the interaction between the environment and the person. As such, a person will regard crime as an acceptable means of earning a living due to the prevailing conditions in the society. If the conditions encourage this activity, it will flourish, but if the conditions are not conducive for such an activity, it will be curtailed. Social disorganization, as explained in this discourse, provides ideal conditions for the development and evolution of organized crime.