The earliest approach to the study of social disorganization is that of the social problems. The problems were discussed without any particular sociological frame of reference both the facts and suggested reform programmes being taken from the fields in which the problems were found. Each problem was considered in complete isolation from others. It was assumed that society could progress if it would attack the mal-adjustment which delayed human advancement. Thus the social problems were the diseases of society which threatened the welfare of the group.
This is not a scientific approach because social problems in one period of history are not so considered in another. Besides some of the so called social problems are not generally accepted as such. Therefore this approach is called evangelistic one. For all its imperfections and inadequacies the social problem approach contributed to the understanding of social disorganization paving the way for a more scientific analysis.
The second approach to the study of social disorganization is the bio-pyschological.It is the result of the development of the sciences; biology and psychology. The beginnings of this approach can be traced in the formulation of racial theories by Gobineau.He and his followers declared the theory that the decay of all societies is the result of racial intermixing. This is because that the races are not equal in capacity. The eugenists were of the view that there are biological differences not only between races but between individuals within the same race. Therefore society would take drastic steps to prevent conception among the mentally unfit. This is only way open to solve social problems and for the prevention of social disorganization. This approach helps us to know that the disorganization of society is the direct result of deficiencies in the biological make-up passed on from generation through heredity.
The third approach is geographical. Geographical factors such as land, water, rainfall, climate and soil decide the superiority of a given culture or the backwardness of people. The forms of social disorganization which are explained in terms of geographical factors are crime, cultural retardation, illiteracy, suicide, divorce and insanity. Geography imposes limitation to man's ingenuity but it does not determine the patterns of social adjustment.
The fourth approach to the study of social disorganization is cultural because it explains social problems in terms of cultural processes. Thus the different forms of social-organization show institutional malfunctioning.
The fifth approach is the cultural lag frame of reference. The term cultural lag explained by Ogburn is based upon the distinction between material and non-material culture. Rapid changes takes place in the material culture whereas slow changes in non-material culture. Changes in material culture necessitate related changes in non-material culture. According to this school the disorganization of the modern family is the result of a lag in the continued functioning of and failure to develop suitable substitutes for the old folkways and mores governing family relations.
Cultural anthropologists attempt to broaden the concept cultural lag to include lack of harmonious functioning between two associated cultural traits. Thomas and Znaniecki in their Polish Peasant talk of the cultural approach. This may be called the culture conflict approach. According to them the social disorganization of the immigrant community is the result of conflict between the cultures of the old and the new worlds in which the control of the primary group breaks down.