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Ind. J. of Applied & Clinical Sociology 10 (3), 2015, 49-57
ISSN: 2230-9772 (Print); 2347-5927 (Online)
©: Human Development & Welfare Institute
Disorganization: Concept, Causes, and Consequences
Navlesk Kumar‡‡
Abstract: Social Disorganization studied sociologically through different angles. A society is
made of individuals as its members or their groups. While forming society certain aspirations,
desire, and objectives remained associated with each of its member that interest keep a member or
members associated or organized. The moment any departure, deviation or sustained obstruction
occurs to any member or members of the society then the process of adjustments and readjustment
gets disturbed within the society among different individual, members or their groups. If this
disturbance is, permanent, members, or their groups consider that situation would not improve
favorably then the process of disorganization starts. When the various parts of society properly
adjusted society remains organized however if adjustment failed and equilibrium is lost and that
could refer as Social Disorganization. Any Social Disorganization could lead to varied Social
Problems depending upon the kind, amount, and veracity of the disorganization.
Family Disorganization followed same principles. Concept Causes and Consequences could differ.
In any case, any disorganization bound to induce Social Problems.
Key Words: Social Order; Theory of Social Order, Defining Social Disorganization;
Characteristics of Social Disorganization; Causes of Social Disorganization: Symptoms of Social
Disorganization & Social Problems.
Doctoral Research Student of Sociology, Magadh University, Bodh-Gaya.
Joint Family and Nuclear Family.
Nuclear family is a family consisting of a
husband, wife, and child or Children.
Family of orientation defined as the
family in which a person grows up.
Family of procreation means the family
formed when a couple’s first child is
Description of terms:
Disorganization: Could be of any type
Social Disorganization; Community/
National Disorganization.
Family: If two or more people who
consider themselves related by blood,
marriage, or adoption. Family is an
organization of relationships, roles and
status, power and authority and customs,
values and young married spouses,
parents and unmarried brothers and
sisters and older members constitute
three integral units of the family.
Patriarchy a group in which men as a
group dominate women as a group;
authority is vested in males. Matriarchy
a society in which women as a group
dominate men as a group. Egalitarian
authority more or less equally divided
between people or groups (in marriage,
for example, between husband and wife)
Marriage: A relationship recognized by
custom or state. Monogamy if men have
single wife. Polygamy when men have
more than one wife. Polygyny a form of
marriage in which men have more than
one wife. Polyandry a form of marriage
in which women have more than one
husband. Endogamy the practice of
marrying within one’s own group.
Exogamy the practice of marrying
outside one’s own group
Social Order theory
Percy S. Cohen refers to four main types
of theories to explain the existence of
Social Order and they are1. Coercion
emphasizes use of force, compulsion,
and pressure to maintain order. It could
involve with some form of physical
punishment, denial of property,
incomes, or privileges. Sometimes it
also worked upon certain stigma and
mystic influences. It has weaknesses
because use of force could be useful to
a certain limit and beyond that limit,
things could go out of control.
2. Interest theory: It works on two
principles firstly, it emphasizes that
any member cannot attain their
objectives without the co-operation of
others. Secondly, it is found that order
is in their collective interests. Emile
Durkheim and Talcott Parsons gives
two objections to this theory, as the
theory does not explain the derivation
of interests. Both Durkheim and
Parsons argue that interests, to some
extent, are given by society itself; that
is, their existence assumes social order.
3. The value consensus theory: This
theory stresses that order is based on
some minimal consensus on certain
values that are predominantly moral
but may also be technical and
aesthetic. The theory often criticized
because a commitment to common
values and ideas in complex societies
is unlikely to be extensive even where
it is powerful.
4. The Inertia theory: The theory asserts
that if social order exists, it provides
the conditions for its own continuation.
This appears to be tautological in that
Descent: Kinship is traced over the
generations. Bilinear is a system of
descent that counts both the mother’s and
the father’s side. Patrilineal, a system of
reckoning descent that counts only the
father’s side. Matrilineal a system of
reckoning descent that counts only the
mother’s side.
Social Order
Social Order in any Social Organization
could refer to a specific established
system that could conserve, maintain,
and enforce certain patterns of relating
and behaving. Social Order is apposite to
social chaos, anarchy, or disorder, and
could refer as a stable state of society in
which the existing social order accepted
and maintained by its members.
The problem of order considered
dominant factor of sociology, political
science, and political philosophy. A
Social Order required for proper function
of the society and a society cannot
function without a Social Order. Though
the Social Order attained, however it is
never consistent, continuous, and
According to Ogburn and Nimkoff when
the harmonious relationship between the
various parts of culture is disturbed,
social disorganization, ensue. According
to R.E.L. Faris, “Social disorganization
is a disturbance in the patterns and
mechanisms of human relations.
According to Elliott and Merrill, “Social
disorganization is the process by which
the relationship between members of the
group are broken or dissolved.”
the notion of social order implies that
of continuity. Although the theory
cannot be accepted as such, when
formulated more clearly and precisely
it emphasizes the point that some of
the causal processes of social
phenomena are often circular. This
theory implies that when social order
is maintained; it tends to resist
pressures for disruption and change, at
least from within.
Defining Social Disorganization
Thus based on these definitions it could
say that social disorganization is not just
readjustments or even casual loss of
equilibrium however it most serious than
all those and symmetrical to the stage or
point of no return.
disequilibrium and a lack of social
solidarity or consensus among the
members of a society.” W.I. Thomas and
Florien Znaniecki conceived of social
disorganization as “a decrease of the
influence of existing rules of behaviour
upon individual members of the groups.”
According to Queen and Harper, “If
development of relationships which
persons and groups find mutually
satisfactory, then disorganization means
their replacement by relationships which
bring disappointment, thwarted wishes,
irritation, and unhappiness.” Social
disorganization often brings personal
disorganization, since a person is a social
creation and his “self” a social product.
disorganization is “the process by which
the relationships between members of a
group are shaken.” Stuart A. Queen,
Walter B. Bodenhafer, and Ernest B.
Harper described social disorganization
in their book ‘Social Organization and
Disorganization’ as the counterpart of
social organization.
According to them, just as social
organization provides the means by
which a society maintains its unity and
cohesion through effective control of its
smoothly; social disorganization causes a
weakening of group solidarity, loss of
control over its members, and, therefore,
conflict and disintegration.
Conflict of Mores and of
Institutions: With the passage of
institution become outdated. New
ideals arise and new institutions
formed. The existing mores come
into conflict with new mores.
Industrialization: the process of
industrialization could led to chronic
conflicts. That ultimately could result in
Social Disorganization.
Cultural Change & Difference:
Cultural change is a continuous process.
Change in life styles, living standards also
induced by changing technology. World
has never changed since invention of
electricity, electronics, electrical, and IT
Technology. All those entirely changed the
society and its culture. If such cultural
change is not equal between members and
their groups that could cause Social
Natural Catastrophes: Natural
Calamities such as earthquakes, floods,
volcanic eruptions and various other
catastrophic phenomena of nature may also
have a disorganizing effect on society. It
may also include outbreaks of epidemics,
endemic or any other certain diseases.
Leadership crisis: Sudden death
of a leader or any other leadership crisis
could lead to Social Disorganization. Even
conflicts within political parties and its
War, Aggression, and Armed
Conflicts: Sustained war or war like
situation including terrorism, Maoism or
any other kind of violence, aggression, or
even fear of consequences could lead to
Social Disorganization.
Mal adaptation of Inherited Nature to
Culture: All societies are changing rapidly
accumulating numerous cultural lags at
every point. In the family, in the industry,
in the government, in the school and in the
church a number of cultural lags can be
seen. The traditional informal controls
have failed to regulate the behavior of
individuals in modern society. Many
Transfer of Functions from one
Group to Another: if certain
powers vested to any individual or
member or groups of members or
individual transferred to other
member, individual or groups; that
Individuation: if in any society
system developed in self-interests
in, mostly arbitrary manner
ignoring the interests of other
members or groups and such
individualism in decision making
and working in self-interest could
induce Social Disorganization.
Change in the Role and Status of
the Individuals; in a society every
member of the society or group
may have certain roles that liked
mostly; however, any shift in their
favorable role could induce Social
Causes of Social Disorganization
Division of Labour: Division of
Labour considered healthy and productive
for the society. If Division of Labour fails
that could cause Social Disorganization.
Emile Durkheim considered extreme
Division of Labour is the cause of Social
Disorganization. Extreme Division of
Labour gives rise to economic crises of all
kinds, class struggles, and industrial strife,
and leads to the demoralization(viii)
individuals, the family, and the
Violation of Social Rules: If the
rules and regulations of society violated
that most often resulted in keeping
individuals under control, and that could
lead to the Social Disorganization.
high rate of population mobility, high
rates of divorce, desertion, illegitimacy,
criminality, a disproportionately high
rate of males, a low rate of home
ownership, high rates of suicides,
commercialized vice and death from
disease and alcoholism.
people fail to internalize a coherent system
of values and behavior controls. They
become disorganized and are diagnosed as
mentally ill.
Symptoms of Social Disorganization &
Social Problems
Social Disorganization has it symptoms
just as if a particular disease in the body
shows its symptoms. However, those
symptoms usually largely dependent on
situation and in any case any kind of
Social Disorganization could give birth
to varied Social Problems and for this
sake several those symptoms termed as
Social Problem according to specific
place and situation.
Herbert A. Bloch divided the symptoms
of Social Disorganization into two
categories sociological, and literaryideological. He further divided the
sociological symptoms into three classes:
individual, family, and community. By
literary-ideological symptoms, he meant
certain tendencies appearing in literary
and artistic works that indicate a
disturbed state of mind. Among these
tendencies, he mentioned nostalgic
themes and themes dealing with personal
frustration and rebellion or protest.
Mabel, A. Elliot and Francis E. Merrill
Disorganization may be of three types
i.e., disorganization of the individual, the
family, and community.
Queen, Bodenhafer and Harper included
in their list of Social Disorganization,
homelessness, insanity, and feeblemindedness.
Among the symptoms of personal
disorganization, they included juvenile
delinquency, various types of crime,
insanity, drunkenness, suicide, and
Formalism, decline of sacred elements,
Individuality of interests and tastes,
Emphasis on personal freedom and
individual rights, Hedonistic behavior,
distrust, Unrest phenomena.
Among the symptoms of family
disorganization, they included divorce,
illegitimate births, desertion, and
venereal disease.
Among the symptoms of community
disorganization, they included poverty,
unemployment, crime, and political
Family Disorganization
Family Disorganization is a condition
threatening the well-beings of the
Calvin F Schmid listed the following
symptoms of disorganized communities:
Divorce, Theory of Women Desertion;
members of the family and that could
further lead to Social Problems. Family
remained the most primitive and intimate
Social Group in a Society and one of the
most significant milestone in the Social
Concept of Family Disorganization
Disorganization may be thought to
include any sort of non-harmonious
functioning within the family. Thus, it
may include not only the tensions
between husband and wife, but also those
arising between children and parents as
well.It has been referred as irreversible
damage of the relationships between a
husband and a wife and sometimes
between children and their parents.
However, fall of relationships between
husband and wife considered most
Family Disorganization refers to
deviations from the expected roles,
statuses, and breakdown in power and
authority in a family. In nutshell, Family
Disorganization is any sort of nonharmonious functioning within the
family. Family Disorganization includes
the tensions between husband and wife,
parents and children and between
younger older generations.
Family Disorganization also sometimes
refereed as Family Division, Family
Disintegration, Family Break Up, or even
Family Insatiability. Disorganization of
family termed by sociologists as an
important cause for several Social
Problems. When fallacies and disparities
surfaced among family that could lead to
disruption, disturbance and anxiety that
could cause Family Disorganization.
Family Disorganization could contribute
to the fall of Social Control that could
lead to fall of Social Order and
ultimately resulting in Deviant behavior.
Family Disorganization is the most
common factor for Social Problems.
According to Shaw & McKay socially
disorganized people tended to produce
crimes increasingly or more rapidly.
Key words: Concept of family
disorganization; Social Change; Factors
of family disorganization; Desertion and
It is also associated with loss of
significant roles of elders who served
as central or main part for the family
support (Joseph, 2011).
There is a disappearance of a common
object and the individual aims are
substituted for family aims, All
cooperative effort ceases, Mutual
services tend to be withheld, The
relationships of husband and wife are
no longer coordinated or held, The
status of the family in its outer
relations to other social groups is
altered, The emotional attitudes of
husband and wife either become
antagonistic or are replaced by
attitudes of indifferenceThe act of
upsetting, damage of system
(Memoria, 1960).
Those situations where behavior
patterns are un-productive and need to
be changed.
Reductionist ideology; Individualism and
secular humanism.
A constant interruption and weakness
in the family social system.
Social Change
5. Political factors: Violation of basic
family rights; Violation of the principles
of subsidiarity; Unjust state legislation;
Poor law enforcement; Manipulated
public education; Lack of sex education;
Certain political pressure group and
international societies.
Social change refers to an alteration in
the social order of a society. Social
change may include changes in nature,
social institutions, social behaviours, or
social relations. Society’s world over
changing fast and new order, values, and
norms keep emerging time to time. It is
considered one of the major cause/ factor
for Family Disorganization.
6. Psychological factors: Psychoses;
Sociopath; Lack of impulse control;
Sexual anomalies; Addiction; Bad habits;
Weak temperament.
Factors of family disorganization
1. Physical Factors: Death; Serious
sickness; Permanent/ even partial
disablement; Sever handicap; Sterility;
Impotency and other sexual problems;
Prolonged physical separation; Age gap;
Color; Change in Physical build up.
7. Irresponsibility or immaturity;
Responsibility; Maturity; Irresponsibility
to God; Selfishness; Possessiveness;
Excessive independence or dependence;
Lack of commitment; Failure to
communicate properly; Undutiful; Lack
of priorities.
2. Economic factors: Only wealth does
not guarantee family harmony. Poverty
and misery; Unemployment; Loss of
livelihood; Loan; Declared Diwalia;
Desertion and Divorce
Desertion has been referred as,
irresponsible departure from the home on
the part of either husband or wife,
leaving the family to fend for itself
(Goode, 1963). According to Eshleman
(1978), desertion refers to a separation of
the spouses that is against the will of one
spouse and is intended by the other
spouse to end marital life. Desertion is a
social relationship where both spouses
sever marital bonds but legally remain
husband-wife. However, divorce means
judicial dissolution of marital bonds and
lose all social, economic, legal, and
sexual rights.
3. Social Factors: Short-term contact;
Rejection of established tradition; Started
following any particular religious sect;
Lack of secularization; Propaganda
against family; Social rivalry; Abortion,
sterilization, and artificial contraception;
Easy divorce mentality; Marriage against
social norms; Marriage against will of
families; Planetary misbelieves.
4. Confusion and distortion of truth:
Relativism: Denial of all norms and
standards; Positivism and agnosticism;
functionalist theory explains desertion
due to the changing social values in
general and those associated with
marriage and family. Functionalists like
Parson’s (1955) believe that a change in
the larger social system will bring about
changes in the sub-system. Changes in
the larger society such as education,
employment occupation, legal, and mass
media will bring about changes in the
institutions of marriage and family.
In legal terms, a desertion must satisfy
following conditions:1. Factum of Separation: Marital
partners must have parted and terminated
all forms of joint living.
2. Animus Deserdendi: It means,
intentions to desert must be there. The
deserting spouse must have the real
intention to terminate cohabitation
permanently but not temporarily.
3. Absence of Consent: The deserted
spouse must not have agreed or
consented to the separation or
abandonment of matrimonial obligations
and relationships.
2. Conflict Theory: The conflict theory
or the Marxist perspective focuses on
clash of roles. It means whenever women
take to full-time employment they cannot
fulfill employment and familial roles
4. Statutory Period: Desertion or
cessation of matrimonial duties and
relationship must have continued for a
minimum period of two years,
3. Incompatibility Theory: A majority
of the young married couples go in for
desertion and divorce because they
cannot take each other into confidence
and build up a minimum of level of trust.
5. Absence of Reasonable Cause:
Desertion must have occurred without
any reasonable ground or cause.
4. Adolescent Stress and Strain:
G.Stanley Hall (1954) believed that
adolescence which begins with the onset
psychological disturbances or tensions.
adolescence is a turning phase in an
individual’s life. It is here he/s he
develops his/ her identity.
Desertion types
1. Constructive Desertion: There may
exist a fact of desertion even if both the
spouses reside in the same home or roof.
2. Willful Neglect: Willful neglect of
matrimonial duties constitutes desertion
according to Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
3. Actual Desertion
4. Permanent Desertion
5. Temporary Desertion
5. Age at Marriage: Age at marriage
and desertion are related with each other.
Early marriage between 14-16 years for
girls is likely to create marital tensions,
as the spouses do not know how to relate
with each other.
Theories of Women Desertion
Disorganization may effects the life of
peoples, who suffer.
6. Family Disorganization Theory:
According to Memoria (1981) and
Madan (1965), desertion/ divorce are the
byproducts of family disorganization.
The effects of family disorganization
may be:
conducted on domestic violence indicate•
that young married women are likely to•
desert the family due to the violence
perpetrated on them. The most common•
family violence against women is the•
harassment by husbands and in-laws for•
dowry or any other reason.
Family Disorganization manifests in
desertions, separations, divorces, court
litigation, and domestic violence on
women, aged and children. Ogburn
disorganization as resulting from the loss•
of functions. In short, woman desertion,•
as a form of marital conflict, results out•
of family disorganization. Family•
Individual disorganization
Stress, anxiety & other mental
Sense of un-security/loneliness.
After divorce of parents, children have low
or no warmth feelings.
Low self-esteem.
Criminals/social evils.
Juvenile delinquency
Emotionally & mentally unsatisfaction/disturbance.
Attempt suicide.
Lack of empathy.