Upon further investigation, Shaw and McKay noticed three qualitative differences in the transitional zone compared to other zones. First, the physical status included the invasion of industry and the largest number of condemned buildings. When many buildings are in disrepair, population levels decrease. Second, the population composition was also different. The zone in transition had higher concentrations of foreign-born and African-American heads of families. It also had a transient population. Third, the transitional zone had socioeconomic differences with the highest rates of welfare, lowest median rent, the lowest percentage of family-owned houses. Interrelated, the zone also had the highest rates of infant deaths, tuberculosis, and mental illness.
Social disorganization is the inability of social institutions to control an individual’s behavior. Since the zone in transition had people moving in and moving out at such high rates, social institutions (like family, school, religion, government, economy) and members could no longer agree on essential norms and values. As earlier stated, many residents were foreign. Thus, speaking different languages and having different religious beliefs may have prevented neighbors from talking to one another and solidifying community bonds. Overall, Shaw and McKay were two of the first theorists to put forth the premise that community characteristics matter when discussing criminal behavior.