Anomie: the Norm of Normlessness in Modern Society

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Anomie, first developed by Emile Durkheim, is very evident in today's society. The concept of anomie, according to Durkheim, is a state of normlessness, where individuals are succumbed to deregulation in their lives and through out their society brought on by a social change. Robert K. Merton, following the ideas of Durkheim, developed his own notion of anomie, called Strain Theory. Merton argued that anomie was a day to day function in society, seen as a social structure that embraces the same goals to all of its members without giving them equal means to achieve them. In the name of progress, modern society has promised a better world, yet in modern society anomie has not become the exception but instead the norm.

Emile Durkheim, a French Sociologist, originally introduced the concept of anomie in his first paper called The Division of Labor in Society, in 1893. According to Emile Durkheim there are two kinds of societies with one being simple called mechanic solidarity and the other being complex or organic solidarity. In mechanic societies there is a high solidarity among all members of that society; they have the same beliefs, religion, and means of survival. As society becomes increasingly organic there is more differentiation between members of that society since not everyone endures the same role. Once societies become organic, work also becomes more complex and there is an increase in the division of labor, and specialized economic activity. By becoming different from each other through their work, individuals become more different in their lives, resulting in a decrease of the collective conscience, community sharing common sediments, and the collective constraint. Individualism replaces the collective conscience. In this society, people are no longer tied to one another and social bonds are impersonal. The term anomie refers to the breakdown of social norms and it a condition where norms no longer control the activities of members in



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