Every society has its own mores and institutions which regulate the social life of its members. With the passage of time some of these mores and institutions may become obsolete. New ideals and new institutions may arise to suit new needs.
The existing mores and institutions instead of giving place for the new ones may come in conflict with them. This conflict between the old and new may destroy the social consensus. With the destruction of consensus, the organisation is disrupted.
For example, in India, such conflicts may be found very often with regard to social practices, ideals, and institutions relating to divorce, female education, joint family, family control, widow remarriage, intercaste marriage, dowry system, untouchability family planning, etc.
2. Transfer of functions from one group to another:
In an organised society the functions of different groups are relatively well defined and almost predetermined. Due to the dynamic nature of society some of these functions either undergo radical change or get transferred to other groups or agencies.
As a result of this, social disorganisation may set in even if it is for a temporary period. For example, the joint family in India is no more performing some of its traditional functions for these have been transferred to some external agencies.
Hence the joint family system is facing a crisis now. Some say, it is in a state of severe disorganisation and this may even lead to its extinction as it is happening in big cities. Similarly, the functions of caste and religious organisations have been transferred to other organisations or agencies leading to crisis.
The modern age places a high premium on individualism or individualistic tendencies. Now everyone is more prone to think of himself and in terms of his own pleasures and wishes and expectations. Important issues such as education, occupation, marriage, recreation morality, etc., have almost become matters of individual decisions.
Individuals often fail to think in terms of the expectations and wishes of the groups or organisations of which they are a part. This tendency is, of course, caused by the changing social values. But it may shatter the social organisation and may drive it towards a state of disorganisation.
4. Inconsistency between expectations and achievements:
In a 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 an anti-social manner there is a clear indication of the society being in a state of social disorganisation.
For instance, if a large number of students take part regularly in strikes and indulge in violence and resort to malpractices in examination, we have no hesitation to say that the college education system has become a disorganised one.
According to Cottrell, “In a disorganised society there is a considerable discrepancy between what is given verbally and which is demonstrated in practice. An organised society has greater congruity between expectation and realisation but such is not the case in a disorganised society where the expectations do not come upto their full realisation”.
5. Inconsistency between status and rule:
In an organised society the status and role of each individual are well defined and hence the possibility of a conflict taking place between the two is comparatively less. Changing social values and social conditions may bring about some conflicts between statuses of the individuals and their roles. Due to this disorganisation may set in.
Thus, a disorganised society is characterised by an extreme uncertainty and ambiguity of social roles. Example: Due to the change in her status, a modern housewife in an advanced society is not sure whether she should play the role of mother, or an employee, or a light-hearted companion, a social leader, and so on.
She may try to perform all roles assigned to her, but not successfully. Her failure to perform the roles successfully may lead to personal dissatisfaction, frustration and insecurity which may disrupt the family life.
Finally, it may be said that in any instance of social disorganisation the following conditions may be present in one way or another either individually or collectively. In most of the cases, they are found in a combined form.
Those conditions are : (1) diversity of opinions; (2) heterogeneity of population; (3) mutual distrust; (4) uncertainty and insecurity; (5) individuality and variety in interests and attitudes; (6) emphasis on rights rather than on duties; (7) contradiction between status and function; (8) lack of clarity in status and roles; (9) conflict of mores and conflict between institutions; (10) absence of or decreased social control; (11) conflict between society and individual, and (12) disregard of values, norms and laws.
Elliot and Merrill have spoken of three types of disorganisation which are, of course, interrelated. They are as follows:
(i) Personal or Individual disorganisation which includes crime, insanity, or mental derangement, prostitution, juvenile delinquency, alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling and suicide.
(ii) Family Disorganisation which consists of divorce, desertion, separation, broken home, unmarried mothers, illegitimate births and venereal disease.
(iii) Community Disorganisation which comprises of poverty, beggary, unemployment, overpopulation, lawlessness, political corruption, crime and so on.