Ch. 7 The Social Disorganization Perspective
Sociological Positivism: The Pathology of Society
The idea that “pathology” can exist at the social level is characteristic of the social
This view dominated the sociology of deviance from the 1890s to the mid 1930s and later
formed the basis for interactionist, social learning, and control theories, all of which will be
discussed in later chapters.
Origins of The Social Disorganization Perspective
Sociological positivism emerged when thinkers from various backgrounds (philosophy,
theology, political science, and natural science) began to look for regularities in social life,
just as natural science had sought regularities in pland and the animal life.
Beyond a desire to follow the example set by the natural sciences, these early
sociologists were motivated by the historical changes that led to increasingly obvious
concentrations of deviance among people in particular social classes and groups.
Religion, which had been largely irrelevant (if not antagonistic) to classical theory, now
served as a motivating factor in the scientific study of society
Those who were relatively well off were encouraged by their religious leaders to concern
themselves with the quality of the physical, spiritual and moral life around them.
Emile Durkheim and Sociological Positivism
Durkheim believed that societies, like other organisms, evolve from simple to more
In Durkheim’s terms, the members of a society share a common conscience that holds
them together in a state of mechanical solidarity. Little individualism or real freedom