Ruben Ortiz

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Comments

Submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Criminal Justice in the Graduate College of Bridgewater State University, 2016.

Degree Program

Criminal Justice

Degree Type

Master of Science


The work of Shaw and Mckay (1942) paved the way for researchers to study inner-city crime by focusing on the environment and its effects on residents. Social disorganization, characterized by weakened institutions led researchers to analyze and predict patterns of crime in urban areas. Researchers argue that social disorganization theory arguments developed from this approach, but lost appeal among researchers due to limited empirical tests. The theory experienced a renewed interest in the 1980s, as structural factors (e.g. poverty, heterogeneity, residential mobility, racial inequality, and family disruption) were considered, all of which allowed researchers to study patterns of crime in large urban areas. The latest argument put forward in the 1990s is that wider macro-structural forces, may actually promote structural antecedents that lead to community social disorganization, which Bursik (1989) and Sampson & Wilson (1995) discuss as conscious political decisions. This study seeks to examine drug law enforcement as a macro structural force which implicates past and current social policy. In other words, drug-related policy measures are examined as explanatory variables linked to elements of social disorganization. The study uses US cities from the 2000 Census with populations of 250,000 or more as the unit of analysis. Results from OLS regression techniques will be used to discuss the study’s implication for social disorganization theory and US public policy. Additionally, the study implicates arguments by Quinney (2001) about potential social problems related to police discretion.


Robert Grantham (chair)

Kyung-shick Choi

Carolyn Petrosino

Included in

Criminology Commons