Emile Durkheim was on of the first sociologists to reject both biological and psychological populist theories of crime and criminal behaviour in an attempt to analyse criminality as a social phenomenon (Hopkins Burke, 2006). Central to his sociological perspective of crime was the concept of anomie which he defined as “the breakdown of social norms and values” leading to “social disorganisation” of many forms, including an overabundance of criminal activity. He used anomie in his most famous work, The Division of Labour (Dukheim, 1933), in which he broke down societies into two distinct categories depending on the complexity and sophistication of the division of labour present. Traditional, pre-modern societies contained what he proclaimed to be mechanical solidarity. This type of society was characterised be a simple division of labour and conformity amongst societal members. The public shared identical understanding of societal norms and values, whilst crimes and to a lesser extent individuality were dealt with by harsh, retributive punishment. As years passed, rapid social changes such as urbanisation and significant technological advances lead to a more complex system of division of labour. This along with the
References: Burgess, E ( 1967) ‘The Growth of the City’ in R Park, E Burgess & R McKanzie (eds.), The City, University of Chicago Press, Chicago. Durkheim, E (1933) The Division of Labour in Society, Free Press, New York. Durkheim, E (1982) The Rules of Sociological Methods, Free Press New York. Einstadter, W & Henry, S (1995) Criminological Theory: An Analysis of Its Underlying Assumptions, Harcourt Brace Collage Publishers, Fort Worth. Hopkins Burke, R. (2006) An Introduction to Criminological Theory (Second Edition), Willan, Devon. Roshier, B (1977) ‘The Function of Crime Myth’, Sociological Review 25: 302-23. Tierney, J. (2006) Social Disorganisation and Anomie in Criminology: Theory and Context (second edition), Pearson, Harlow.