Anomie

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  • A society's state of instability due to the breakdown or absence of norms. Émile Durkheim introduced the sociological concept of anomie in 1893 in The Division of Labor in Society and continued to expand on its meaning in Suicide. In “mechanical” or nonindustrialized societies, people are closer knit and simply behave like one another. In “complex” industrialized or modern societies, social bonds are weak, and therefore, socially created and reinforced values are what regulate and control human behavior. Social change, such as a shift in the economy or urban migration, unseats established norms, and a period of normlessness or anomie sets in. Durkheim equates anomie with lawlessness, and in such times, he posits, deviance increases. As society responds to increased deviance, norms are again established ...

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