U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Association Between Social Disorganization and Rural Violence Is Sensitive to the Measurement of the Dependent Variable

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Review Volume: 38 Issue: 2 Dated: June 2013 Pages: 169-189
Maria T. Kaylen; William Alex Pridemore
Date Published
June 2013
21 pages
The authors conducted a comparison of a study by Osgood and Chambers of social disorganization theory to youth violence in rural areas.
A widely cited study by Osgood and Chambers appeared to extend the generalizability of social disorganization theory to youth violence in rural areas. The results of a very similar study the authors conducted, however, did not show support for social disorganization, and they concluded that the theory may not be as robust an explanation for rural youth violence as believed. In the current article, the authors take an important first step in addressing the conflicting findings by examining three likely methodological reasons for the inconsistent results: spatial autocorrelation, sample composition, and measurement of the dependent variable. Multiple tests suggest the first two explanations do not influence the results. The analyses do indicate, however, that the association between social disorganization and violence in rural areas is sensitive to how the dependent variable is measured. The authors conclude that scholars should not rely solely on official crime data from rural areas when testing sociological and criminological theories. Abstract published by arrangement with Sage Journals.