What is Social Disorganisation?

Disorganisation is a disturbance of the balance existing in the functioning of parts . The criterion of disorganisation is the function of what is done or not done …” 

                           Ogburn and Nimkoff 

Human are part of nature and just like nature 

Humans have their own order . The orderliness depends on its internal strength to maintain its equilibrium . Society is said to be in equilibrium or orderliness as long as all the orders are functioned properly .

Whenever social equilibrium a severely disturbed ” social disorganisation ” sets in .Thus ” social disorganisation ” can be understood as nothing but the state of social disequilibrium in  which the smooth functioning of various parts of society gets disturbed .

Disruption or breakdown of the students of social relations and values resulting in the loss of social controls over individual and group behaviour is disorganisation .

Concept of Disorganisation 

The concept of ” disorganisation ” occupies a prominent place in modern sociological literature. 

The concept was developed by Thomas and Zanaiecki in their famous book , ” The Polish Peasant in Europe and America .”

According to them the term ” social disorganisation” refers to the decrease in the influence of the existing social rules of behaviour upon individual members .

Social Disorganisation is the process opposed to social organisation . Social organisation concept in an orderly relationship of parts .

Stuart A. Queen , Walter B Bolenjafter and Ernest B. Harper described social disorganisation in their book , ” Social Organisation and Disorganisation” as the counterpart of social organisation.

The term social organisation and social disorganisation are relative terms . They represent two aspects of the whole functioning of the social system

Comparing social disorganisation with social organisation Queen & Harper writes , 

If social organisation means the development of relationships which persons and groups find mutually satisfactory , disorganisation means their replacement by relationships which are disappointed, thwarted ,wishes , irritation and unhappiness. “

Hence , When the social equilibrium is disturbed and society gets out of gear i.e get disorganized.


Emile Durkheim defined social disorganisation as , 

“a state of disequilibrium and lack of social solidarity or consensus among the members of society.”

According to Mowever , social disorganisation is ” the process by which the relationships between members of a group are shaken “

Robert Eolofairs states , ” social disorganisation is a disturbance in the pattern and mechanism of human relations .”

According to Elliot and Merrill , ” Social disorganisation represents a breakdown in the equilibrium of forces , a decay in the social structure , so that old habits and forms of social control no longer function effectively.”

Thus , social organisation implies a breakdown in bonds of relationship , coordination , teamwork and morale among groups and interrelated persons so as to impair the functions of the society or smaller social organisation. ___________________________________________

Characteristics of Social Disorganisation 

Conflicts of Mores and of Institutions :- Mores and institutions are part of every society which regulate the social life of members .

The urge to innovate and liberalise with the passage of time makes old mores and institutions less effective and leads to the rise of new ideas and institutions  according to new needs .

This leads to an unwanted conflict disturbing the social order and causing social consensus.

Many social practices , ideals and institutions relating to female education , patriarchal family , widow marriage , dowry system , sati system etc are examples of such  conflicts .

Individuation :-  Man is more prone to think of himself and in terms of his own pleasure and leisure. The modern system has a great impact on individuation or individualistic aspects . The individuation affects the group behaviour of the society . Important issues such as education , marriage , occupation , etc , have become matters of individual decisions which are caused by the changing social values . This causes disturbance in social organisation and states towards disorganisation.

• Inconsistency between expectations and achievements :-  In disorganised society considerable inconsistency is visible between the expectations embodied in the social role and the extent to which these expectations can be realised by most persons.

When a large number of people in the society try to achieve goals in and anti – social manner there is a clear indication of the society being in a state of social disorganisation .

Transfer of functions from one group to another :-  Society undergoes many changes of social groups  time to time due to its dynamic nature . These changes result in social disorganisation as many do not respond well with changing the group pattern or functions of group in the society .

Inconsistency between status and rule :– Status and role of each individual are well defined . Changing social values and norms conditions may bring  the possibility of a conflict taking place between statuses of individuals and their roles .

Hence , disorganisation is characterized by an extreme uncertainty of social rules .

Types of Disorganisation 

Elliot and Merrill stated three types of disorganisation which are interrelated to each other .

Three types of disorganisation are :-

Personal Disorganisation

He stated ,

the symptoms of persons disorganisation includes  juvenile delinquency , various types of crime , Insanity , drunkenness , suicide and gambling.

Family disorganisation

It includes divorce , illegitimate births , desertion , venereal disease.

Community Disorganisation.

It includes poverty, unemployment, overpopulation , lawlessness , and political corruption .


Causes of Disorganisation 

Social disorganisation is a complex process. To face challenges of social disorganisation it is necessary to study the nature of its causes . There are a number of factors that cause social disorganisation .

According to Sorokin , social disorganisation is the result of cultural degeneration of values in various spheres like arts , religion , law , family , economy , etc. 

Hence , the change from Idealistic and ideational  culture to sensate culture is the main cause of disorganisation.

Elliot and Merril mentioned four major causes of disorganisation, ( •) the process under the three main heads :- cultural , political and economical.

(•) cultural Lag (•) conflicting attitudes and values (•) social crisis. 

G.R. Madan has listed few factors that causes disorganisation such as

•  psychological factors 

• physical and geographical factors.

• biological factors

• ecological factors

• Social problems 

• degeneration of Values 

Social disorganisation has been and is always present in every society. Society is in equilibrium as long as its parts are properly adjusted and fulfilled .Social Disorganisation breaks down the normal functioning of the parts and disturbances leading to some other kind of problems . Disorganisation leads to functional imbalance between various elements of social structure.

The remedies of social disorganisation can be taken after understanding the true nature of that particular  social control caused due to disorganisation.