Anomie ( Greek : compound from α privativum for negation and the ending -nomie for νόμος , "order, law") describes in sociology a state of missing or weak social norms , rules and order. Especially in England, the term was originally a theological term for breaking religious laws. The word anarchy (absence of domination ) is often used colloquially and in a misleading manner to describe an anomie .
"Anomie" at Durkheim
The concept of anomie was introduced into sociology by Émile Durkheim (1858-1917), who had borrowed it from the writings of the philosopher Jean-Marie Guyau . According to Durkheim, the decline in religious norms and values inevitably leads to disturbances and a reduction in social order . Due to lawlessness and irregularity, social integration is no longer guaranteed. Durkheim called this condition anomie , which must lead to fear and dissatisfaction in the individual , and can even lead to suicide ("anomic suicide"). Durkheim used the term to describe the pathological effects of the social and labor division that developed rapidly in early industrialism. The associated weakening of the norms and rules for the allocation of goods leads to increased competition for the increasing prosperity gains.
The development of the concept of anomie at Durkheim took place in several steps: First, he understood anomie as a situation in which solidarity no longer arises in a society based on the division of labor. In his work on suicide (1897), it is above all the ambitions of the individual that lead to moral individualism in the best case and to an egoistic excessive individualism in the worst case. The latter destroys social equilibrium and social norms and, according to Durkheim, leads to anomie.
In the work on the rules of the sociological method, anomie is not a real or ascribed property of the individual (the term deviance is used for this by the criminal sociology), but of the social structure as a whole. This is regularly due to a certain rate of deviation from the norm - e.g. B. in crime - marked. Anomalous, however, is a sudden increase in crime. According to Durkheim, the opposite of anomie is a state of fatalism in which social rules are accepted without contradiction.
Bronisław Malinowski postulated in 1926 that even in so-called primitive societies the social rules are only partially fulfilled. Talcott Parsons pointed out that increased individualism does not result from the emancipation of individuals from social rules, but rather represents a special form of social regulation in modern societies.
"Anomie" at Merton
Robert K. Merton refined the term anomie. Anomie arises above all from the discrepancy between socially or culturally defined, i.e. worthwhile and legitimate goals (for the USA e.g. individual wealth), and a lack of clarity about the legitimate (socially permitted) means to achieve them or from difficult access to these funds.
Anomie can thus be described as the dissociation between cultural goals and the access of certain social classes to the necessary means, i.e. from a divergence of aspired goals, wishes and expectations of the people of a society, the social norms that prescribe the means that people use Realization of their goals are allowed to use, and a distribution of these means perceived as unfair. This weakens the bond between means and goals.
The cultural structure of a society influences the goals (e.g. education, growth, prosperity, high reputation) and the norms to be followed to achieve them ("1 + 1 = 2" ?, diligence, intelligence, eagerness to learn, religion, memory ) .
The social structure , on the other hand, decides on the distribution of these funds (equal opportunities, participation, equal rights for all, etc.).
Merton names five possible human reaction patterns to this dissociation:
- 1. Conformity : Concentration on the goals that can be achieved with the available (approved) means
- 2. Innovation : Use of culturally previously disapproved means to pursue culturally approved goals
- 3. Ritualism : strict use of the prescribed means to the point of ignorance of the negative consequences of using these means (performing the ritual for the sake of the ritual - even if the cultural goals are not achieved)
- 4. Withdrawal ( retreat ): renouncing both prescribed goals and required means (dropouts, drug addicts, etc., see also escapism )
- 5. Rebellion: Rejection of ends and means and emphasis on a new, socially deprecated system of ends and means.
Culturally approved resources can be perceived as inefficient in a technical sense, which suggests recourse to more efficient but culturally rejected resources. This behavior can be frowned upon, but viewed retrospectively as a successful innovation.
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- Assimilation (sociology)
- Deviance (deviant behavior)
- Emergent order
- Criminal Sociology
- Émile Durkheim: Le suicide. Etude de sociologie. Alcan, Paris 1897.
- E. Durkheim: De la division du travail social. Alcan, Paris 1893.
- E. Durkheim: Les règles de la méthode sociologique. Alcan, Paris 1895.
- B. Malinowski: Crime and Custom in Savage Society. 1926, new edition Routledge, 2001.
- Robert K. Merton : Social Theory and Social Structure. Toward the codification of theory and research. Free Press, Glencoe IL 1949.
- See Bernd-Dieter Meier: Kriminologie. 2005, p. 57.
- Bernd-Dieter Meier: Criminology. 2005, p. 57 f.
- Bernd-Dieter Meier: Criminology. 2005, p. 57.