Empirical studies by Hagan and other researchers emphasized that the sociological focus on the ‘ultimate" structural causes of criminal behavior has impeded the formation of effective crime polices. Hagan felt that if structural criminology were pursued within the life course framework (which means that social events, such as crime, are linked to broad life trajectories that may be criminal or non-criminal in form), it might bring out new answers to the causes of crime.
Bursik pointed out that most of the problems with studies of social structure are recursive in nature. They fail to consider the degree to which rates of crime and delinquency may affect a community’s capacity for social control.
Like other theories that attempt to explain why people commit crime, social structural theories have both supporters and detractors. Like other theories, social structural theories appear to explain crime in certain circumstances, but they fail to explain it in all circumstances. Research has provided some support for social structural theories but the relationships have been weak. General strain theory seems to have more empirical support than does social disorganization theory. For this reason, it appears that general strain theory is of more importance than social disorganization theories in explaining the causes of crime.
Social structural theories tend make broad assumptions about crime while skimming over important differences among such crimes as organized crime, violent crime, and mundane crimes. It seems there would be more progress in understanding the social sources of crime if social structure theorists would concentrate on a particular type of crime and unite their individual theories into an overall general theory.