anomie

1. (noun) Normlessness or social instability caused by the erosion or absence of morals, norms, standards, and values in a society.

2. (noun) A personal state of alienation, anxiety, and purposelessness caused by social instability and the loss of regulation.

Audio Pronunciation: (an·o·mie)

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Usage Notes:

  • Term popularized by Émile Durkheim (1858–1917) in Suicide (1897).
  • Variant form:
    • anomia
    • anomy
  • Also called:
    • anomie theory
    • normlessness
  • A society experiencing anomie is (adjective) anomic.

Related Quotations:

  • “Anomie, therefore, is a regular and specific factor in causing suicide in our modern societies. It is one of the sources feeding the annual totals. This is a new type that must be distinguished from the others. It differs from them in that it does not depend on the way in which individuals are attached to society, but on the way in which they are regulated by society. Egoistic suicide stems from the fact that men no longer see a reason for living; altruistic suicide comes from the fact that this reason appears to them to lie outside life itself; the third kind of suicide, whose existence we have just established, comes from the fact that their activity is unregulated and they suffer as a consequence. Because of its origin, we shall call this last type ‘anomic suicide'” (Durkheim [1897] 2004:81).
  • “No society lacks norms governing conduct. But societies do differ in the degree to which folkways, mores and institutional controls are effectively integrated with the goals which stand high in the hierarchy of cultural values. The culture may be such as to lead individuals to center their emotional convictions upon the complex of culturally acclaimed ends, with far less emotional support for prescribed methods of reaching out for these ends. With such differential emphases upon goals and institutional procedures, the latter may be so vitiated by the stress on goals as to have the behavior of many individuals limited only by considerations of technical expediency. In this context, the sole significant question becomes: Which of the available procedures is most efficient in netting the culturally approved value? The technically most effective procedure, whether culturally legitimate or not, becomes typically preferred to institutionally prescribed conduct. As this process of attenuation continues, the society becomes unstable and there develops what Durkheim called ‘anomie’ (normlessness)” (Merton [1949] 1968:189).

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References

Durkheim, Émile. [1897] 2004. “Suicide.” in Readings from Emile Durkheim. Rev. ed., edited and translated by K. Thompson. New York: Routledge.

Merton, Robert King. [1949] 1968. Social Theory and Social Structure. New York: Free Press.

 

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How to Cite the Definition of Anomie

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “anomie.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved December 14, 2018

(https://sociologydictionary.org/anomie/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

anomie. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/anomie/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “anomie.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed December 14, 2018. https://sociologydictionary.org/anomie/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“anomie.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 14 Dec. 2018. <https://sociologydictionary.org/anomie/>.