Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Sociology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Amie L. Nielsen

Second Committee Member

Roger Dunham

Third Committee Member

Shouraseni Sen Roy


In comparison to other industrialized, capitalist societies, the United States is characterized by far higher rates of economically-motivated crime, also known as instrumental crime. These acts are directly harmful to immediate victims, are more than seven times more prevalent than violent crime, and they involve billions of dollars of economic losses yearly. Drawing from previous criminological research that shows that higher levels of social disorganization and institutional anomie are associated with higher rates of crime, the present study develops an integrated theoretical approach involving neighborhood-level measures of social disorganization and state-level indicators of the strength of economic and noneconomic institutions as predictors of macro-level instrumental crime rates. Geospatial analyses and multilevel analyses with concepts drawn from social disorganization theory and institutional anomie theory are used to explain instrumental crime in the U.S. between 1999 and 2001 with a representative sample of 9,593 neighborhoods from the National Neighborhood Crime Study and state-level data from the Uniform Crime Reports. The results indicate that social disorganization theory is supported at the neighborhood level and institutional anomie theory is supported at the state level. Support for the anomic disorganization integrated theory is mixed, and suggests the need for future theoretical and empirical research.


crime; social disorganization; institutional anomie; criminological theory; crime mapping; multilevel modeling