Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Susan M. Carlson

Second Advisor

Dr. David Hartmann

Third Advisor

Dr. Thomas Van Valey

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Victoria Ross


The primary purpose of this dissertation is to modify and test the systemic social disorganization models of crime proposed by Bursik and Grasmick (1993) and Sampson, Raudenbush, and Earls (1997), and offer an empirical test of my hypothesized model. Specifically, the model includes traditional indicators of social disorganization (racial/ethnic heterogeneity, socioeconomic status, family disruption, residential stability) as exogenous variables; social and physical disorder, social cohesion, and three levels of informal social control (private, parochial, and public) as intervening mechanisms; and official crime counts and crime victimization as dependent variables.

The data used in this study come from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods, the same data file analyzed by Sampson, Raudenbush, and Earls (1997), Sampson and Raudenbush (1999), and Morenoff et al. (2001), to test variations of systemic social disorganization theory. Based on my reviews of the theoretical and empirical literatures, the purpose of the present dissertation is threefold. First, my goal is to develop more rigorous and theoretically-sound measures of social disorganization. Second, I will use confirmatory factor analysis to address the conceptual issues raised in previous studies by explicitly examining the convergent and discriminant validity of the key concepts that mediate the relationship between social disorganization and crime in systemic social disorganization theory, including the issue of their theoretically-specified dimensions. Finally, this dissertation will offer a more comprehensive test of systemic social disorganization theory than what exists in prior research. Based on hierarchical linear modeling, the results will show the impact of disorder and social cohesion on the exercise of informal social controls and the relative effects of private, parochial, and public forms of control on crime and victimization.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access