Anomic Suicide, Anomia
David Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) borrowed the word
anomie from the french philosopher Jean-Marie Guyau and used it in his book Suicide
Durkheim defined the term anomie as a condition where social and/or moral norms are
confused, unclear, or simply not present. Durkheim felt that this lack of norms led to deviant behavior.
Anomie is a concept developed by
Emile Durkheim to describe an absence of clear societal norms and values.
Durkheim was also concerned that
anomie might arise from a lack of consensus over social regulation of the workplace.
Anomie means a condition or
malaise which in individuals is characterized by an absence or diminution of standards or
Anomie can occur in several
different situations. For example, the undermining of traditional values may result from
Mertons most influential work was his theory of
anomie. Anomie is a well-known theory within the discipline of criminology.
Merton first published the theory in 1938 in an article
titled "Social Structure and Anomie" (Hunt, 1961:59). It was this work that
catapulted Merton into the sociological spotlight in which he has forever remained.
The concept of anomie can be
helpful in partially understanding the experience of colonized Aboriginal peoples as their
traditional values are disrupted (Aboriginal
Culture and Tradition), yet they do not identify with the new cultural values imposed
upon them: they lose a sense of authoritative normative regulation.
Anomia is a social psychological
condition, rather than a societal condition which anomie refers to,
characterized by a breakdown in values and a feeling of isolation. 'Anomia' is much easier
to measure than has Durkheim's concept of 'anomie'.
In the philosophy of law and
political science, anomia is the state of the absence of law, the negation of law in the
sense of lex. Anomia in the sense of the lack of a positive law promulgated by the
authority of the state (lex) occurs in conceptions that accept the existence of a
pre-social and pre-political state of nature as a historical fact or as a mere hypothesis.
A Developmental Test of
Mertonian Anomie Theory - SCOTT MENARD
Merton's theory of anomie and deviant behavior has not been tested adequately. A careful
review of Merton's writings on anomie theory is used to construct a more complete and
rigorous test of the theory for respondents in early, middle, and late adolescence. -
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Vol. 32, No. 2, 136-174 (1995)
Change, Institutional Anomie, and Homicide - Sang-Weon Kim, Dong-Eui University,
South Korea, William Alex Pridemore, Indiana University
Abstract: This study examined institutional anomie theory in the context of transitional
Russia. We employed an index of negative socioeconomic change and measures of family,
education, and polity to test the hypothesis that institutional strength conditions the
effects of poverty and socioeconomic change on homicide rates. Results of models estimated
using negative binomial regression analysis show
direct positive effects of poverty and socioeconomic change and direct negative effects of
family strength and polity on regional homicide rates. There was no support for the
hypothesis that stronger social institutions reduce the effects of poverty and
socioeconomic change on violence.
ANOMIE AND STRAIN:
CONTEXT AND CONSEQUENCES OF MERTONS TWO THEORIES
Richard Featherstone, University of Northern Iowa and Mathieu Deflem
Abstract: Robert Merton presented two not always clearly differentiated theories in his
seminal explorations on the social-structure-and-anomie paradigm: a strain theory and an
anomie theory. We contend that scholars who are critical of strain theory should not
automatically discard Mertons anomie theory, because the perspective of anomie is
compatible with several other theories of crime and delinquency.
BEHAVIOR GENETICS AND
ANOMIE/STRAIN THEORY - ANTHONY WALSH
Behavior genetics is a biologically-friendly environmental discipline that often tells us
more about environmental effects on individual traits than about genetic effects. Anomie/social strain theory is used to illustrate the usefulness of
behavior genetics to criminological theories. Behavior genetics examines the individual
differences that sort people into different modes of adaptation and that lead them to cope
constructively or destructively with strain.
ASSESSING MESSNER AND
ROSENFELD'S INSTITUTIONAL ANOMIE THEORY: A PARTIAL TEST
MITCHELL B. CHAMLIN, JOHN K. COCHRAN
In Crime and the American Dream, Messner and Rosenfeld contend that culturally and
structurally produced pressures to secure monetary rewards, coupled with weak controls
from noneconomic social institutions, promote high levels of instrumental crime. This
investigation evaluates this proposition with cross-sectional data for U.S. states. The
nonlinear models show considerable, indirect support for Messner and Rosenfeld's
institutional anomie theory, revealing that the effects of poverty on property crime
depend on levels of structural indicators of the capacity of noneconomic institutions to
ameliorate the criminogenic impact of economic deprivation.
An Empirical Examination
of the Anomie Theory of Drug Use. - Dull, R. Thomas
Abstract: Investigated the relationship between anomie theory, as measured by Srole's
Anomie Scale, and self-admitted drug use in an adult population. Bivariate
cross-comparison correlations indicated anomie was significantly correlated with several
drug variables, but these associations were extremely weak and of little explanatory
Institutional anomie and
societal variations in crime: a critical appraisal, Jensen G.
Messner and Rosenfeld proposed an institutional anomie theory of crime, incorporating the
proposition that societal investments in programs to buffer citizens from capricious
market forces (decommodification) are inversely related to rates of lethal violence among
societies. This paper outlines several limitations of the theory and brings data from the
World Values Surveys and other sources to bear on their characterization of American
culture, their arguments about the impact of economic dominance on other institutions, and
alternative explanations of the link between decommodification and homicide.
From Anomie to Anomia
and Anomic Depression: A Sociological Critique on the Use of Anomie in Psychiatric
Research, Mathieu Deflem
Abstract: The author demonstrates that the sociological concept of anomie has undergone
important transformations when applied in psychiatric research. It is argued that these
transformations are not fully in concordance with the original theories of anomie as they
were set forth by Durkheim and Merton.
Anomie Theory - A Microlevel Examination Connecting Culture, Institutions, and
Lisa R. Mufti, North Dakota State University
Institutional anomie theory (IAT) contends that crime can be explained by an examination
of American society, particularly the exaggerated emphasis on economic success inherent in
American culture, which has created a "cheating orientation" that permeates
structural institutions. The current study tests the robustness of IAT by operationalizing
IAT variables at the individual level and looking at a minor form of deviance, student
cheating. Results related to the hypothesis that American students, relative to
foreign-born students, will have an increased adherence to economic goal orientations that
increase cheating behaviors are presented, as are suggestions for future studies.
SOCIAL ANOMIE AND PROTESTANT GROWTH IN LATIN AMERICA
A CROSS-NATIONAL ANALYSIS - Anthony Gill
The rapid growth of evangelical Protestantism in Latin America has received scholarly
attention. The explanation for this phenomenon has been a variant of 'social anomie'
theory that focuses on changes in social demand for religion. Individuals experiencing
socio-economic crisis become displaced from their communities and lose their cultural
identities. These individuals are then more susceptible to the appeals of new religious
movements. I argue that the degree of government regulation of religious economies can
best account for cross-national variations in Protestant growth. This analysis suggests
that secularization is a function of government policy.
MERTON: CONTINUITIES IN THE THEORY OF ANOMIE-AND-OPPORTUNITY-STRUCTURE
Sanjay Marwah, George Mason University and Mathieu Deflem
Abstract: This paper discusses recent criticisms of the Mertonian theory of deviant
behavior and argues that a visionary sociological paradigm of
anomie-and-opportunity-structures underlies Mertons contribution. We argue that
future research should identify, examine, and test differentiated aspects of the
anomie-and-opportunity-structures paradigm in order to arrive at a more consistent and
substantiated conclusion on the validity of Mertons project.