One example of social disorganization theory would be a small town that has turmoil between different groups, even as the groups themselves change and move away, only to have new groups come in. Neighborhoods that are high in crime, no matter who lives there, comprise another example.
Social disorganization applies to areas that feature socioeconomic deprivation and high mobility among residents. These neighborhoods are undesirable; the people who live there move away as soon as they can, only to be replaced by other people who are new to the area. The result is an overall ethnic variety that is constantly shifting and a lack of the conventional institutions that usually provide social guidance, such as community organizations, churches, schools and stable families. There is no social structure in place to provide guidance to young people, who end up getting into trouble.
The social disorganization theory was particularly pervasive between the 1950s and 1960s. As researchers began to utilize more sophisticated methods to acquire data, including the use of surveys, attention turned more to individual thought and behavior processes as opposed to group dynamics. When social disorganization became a popular theory again during the 1980s and 1990s, the emphasis was more on rehabilitation than identification of problems.