Social disruption

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Social disruption is a term used in sociology to describe the alteration or breakdown of social life, often in a community setting. For example, the closing of a community grocery store might cause social disruption in a community by removing a "meeting ground" for community members to develop interpersonal relationships and community solidarity. The term is often associated with the effects of rapid population growth.

Social disruptions can take place in a variety of forms, from natural disasters to the grocery store example in the above paragraph. It can take place after anything that happens that changes the usual routine in an environment.


In punishment, social disruption occurs when the deliverer of punishment and the setting in which the punishment is delivered become conditioned aversive stimuli. More simply put, a person who delivers punishment can become something that is avoided by the subject of the punishment. For example, a lab rat may come to avoid an experimenter delivering shocks as punishment. The experimenter himself is not a punishing stimulus, but the rat learns to associate the actual punishment (the shocks) with the person delivering the shocks.

The use of punishment seems necessary when trying to suppress violence or stress.


Krannich, Richard S, and Thomas Greider. 1984. "Personal Well-Being in Rapid Growth and Stable Communities: Multiple Indicators and Contrasting Results." Rural Sociology 49(4):541–552.

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  • W. David Pierce and Carl D. Cheney, Behavior Analysis and Learning 3rd ED