The research on the socio-spatial analysis of crime reaches deep into the past. However, one of the first major sociological theories that influenced the scientific field of criminology is the social disorganization theory of Shaw and McKay, who studied the impact of structural factors on neighbourhood crime in the Chicago metropolitan area. This article introduces the original concept of social disorganization theory, describes the reasons for its criticism in the 70´s and the causes of its subsequent resurgence during the 80´s. Attention is given to studies that used social disorganization theory as a starting point for the socio-spatial analysis of crime. The aim of the article is to trace how the concept of social disorganization was historically understood and operationalized within empirical research, and what data the authors used for this purpose.