Anomie - It is a state of social or individual moral-mental consciousness, which is characterized by the corruption of moral norms, the disintegration of the moral value system. The concept of anomia was proposed by a sociologist from France, Durkheim Emile, with the aim of interpreting deviant behavioral responses, for example, suicidal intentions, wrongful acts. The state of anomie is inherent in society in times of unrest, revolutions, restructuring, the crisis of society, due to the contradiction between the goals that were promulgated and their impossibility for the prevailing part of the subjects, that is, in those periods when the majority of members of a particular society lose trust in moral values, moral guides and social institutions. The problem of anomie is closely related to professional degradation, disappointment in life and the activities carried out, alienation of the individual from society, invariably accompanying the described phenomenon.

Social anomie

In the course of a rather abrupt change of goals and morals of a certain society, certain social categories no longer feel their own involvement in this society.

The concept of anomia is a process of destruction of the fundamental foundations of culture, in particular ethical norms. As a result, such categories of citizens are alienated. In addition, they reject new social ideals, norms and morals, including socially proclaimed patterns of behavior. Instead of using generally accepted means of achieving goals of an individual or public orientation, they put forward their own, often unlawful.

The state of anomia, affecting all strata of the population with social upheavals, has a particularly strong impact on the youth.

Anomia is in sociology any kind of "deviations" in the value and normative system of society. First introduced the term anomia Durkheim. He considered as anomia the absence of law, norms of behavior, or their insufficiency. Durkheim emphasized that the problem of anomia is born more often in the context of dynamic reforms and during periods of economic crisis. The described concept provokes a certain psychological state of the individual, characterized by a sense of loss of life guidelines, emerging when the subject is faced with the need to enforce conflicting norms. In other words, such a state is born when the previous hierarchy is destroyed, and a new one has not yet formed. As long as the social forces that are left to themselves during the crisis periods do not come to equilibrium, their relative value cannot be taken into account, therefore, any regulation is found to be insolvent for some time.

Later, this phenomenon is understood as a state of society, caused by the excess of conflicting norms (Merton anomie). In such conditions, the individual is lost, not understanding exactly what standards should be followed. The integrity of the regulatory system, the procedure for regulating social relations is crumbling. People in these conditions are socially disoriented, they experience anxiety, a sense of isolation from society, which naturally provokes deviant behavioral responses, crime, marginality and other asocial phenomena.

Durkheim saw the reasons for the anomie in opposition to the "established" and modern industrial society.

The anomie problem is caused by the transitional nature of the historical period, the temporary decline in the moral regulation of new economic and capitalist relations.

Anomie is a product of incomplete transformation from mechanical unity to organic unity, since the objective foundation of the latter (the social distribution of labor) progresses more intensively than it searches for a moral basis in the collective consciousness.

Factors of anomie occurrence: a collision of two categories of socially generated phenomena (the first is interests and needs, the second is the resource for their satisfaction). According to Durkheim, a prerequisite for personal integrity is a cohesive and stable society. In the generally accepted order, the abilities of individuals and their needs were provided quite simply, since they were restrained at a low level by an appropriate collective consciousness, hindering the development of individualism, personal liberation, setting strict limits to what the subject could seek in a legal way in a given social situation. The hierarchical feudal society (traditional) was constant, because it set different goals for different layers and allowed each member to feel their own being meaningful inside a limited closed layer. The development of the social process provokes the growth of “individualization” and at the same time snatches the power of group supervision, the stable moral boundaries inherent in the old time. The degree of personal freedom from tradition, group mores, prejudices, the presence of an individual choice of knowledge and means of action expands dramatically in new conditions. A relatively free device of industrial society ceases to determine the vital activity of individuals and constantly recreates anomie, implying the absence of stable life ideals, norms and patterns of behavior, which puts most people in a position of uncertainty, deprives collective unity, a sense of connection with a certain category and the whole society. All of the above leads to an increase in society deviating and self-destructive behavioral reactions.

Social norm and social anomie

One of the fundamental concepts of sociology is the social norm, which is considered as a mechanism for evaluating and regulating the behavioral response of individuals, categories and social communities. Social norms are called prescriptions, attitudes, expectations of proper (socially approved) behavior. The norms are some ideal patterns that determine what individuals should say, think, feel, and do in certain conditions. The system of norms that operate in a particular society, forms an integral totality, the various structural elements of which are interdependent.

Social norms are the responsibility of one individual in relation to another or social environment. They determine the formation of a network of public relations of a group, a society. Also, social norms are the expectations of groups of different numbers and in the whole society. The surrounding society expects each individual who adheres to the norms of a certain behavioral response. Social norms determine the development of a system of social relationships, including motivation, ideals, the aspirations of the actors, expectation, evaluation.

The social state, which consists in the loss by its members of the significance of social attitudes and ideals, which provokes the multiplication of deviant behavior, is called social anomie. In addition, it manifests itself:

  • in the absence of comparison standards in people, social assessment of their own behavior, which provokes a “lumpenized” state and the loss of group unity;
  • in the discrepancy between social goals and approved ways of achieving them, which pushes individuals towards illegal means of achieving them in the event of the unattainability of the goals set by law.

Sociologists, comparing the concepts of anomia to deviant behavior, considered the point of intersection of their non-observance by members of society of the norms established by him. The main difference between the terms anomia and deviant behavior lies in the social scale of the factors that provoked their manifestation. The nature of anomia is much deeper. It is caused by serious social transformations that affect society as a single system and its individual members.

Theory of anomie

Anomia is the state of the absence of legal norms and lawlessness.

Anomy, in sociology, is a state of social lack of mode, applicable to large communities and small groups. The foundation for the emergence of the theory of anomie, which explains the causes of crime, laid Durkheim.

Durkheim theory of anomie. A French sociologist argued that socially deviating behavioral responses and crime are quite normal phenomena. Because, if in a society there is no such behavioral response, then, consequently, the society is under control of pain. When crime is eliminated, progress stops. Illegal deeds are a payment for social transformations.

Durkheim's anomie theory is based on the premise that a society without criminality is unthinkable. Since, if acts cease to be committed that in modern society are considered illegal, then some “fresh” variations of behavioral reactions will have to be included in the category of criminal acts. Durkheim argued that "crime" is indestructible and inevitable. The reason for this lies not in the weakness and natural anger of people, but in the existence in society of an infinite variety of different types of behavior. Unity in human society is achieved only with the use of conformist pressure against such diversity in behavioral responses. Such pressure can provide punishment.

Social norm and social anomia according to Durkheim are the most important social phenomena, since criminality is a factor in the healthy state of society and without a social norm it cannot exist. In a society without criminals, the pressure of public consciousness will be so hard and intense that no one can resist it. The disappearance of crime entails the loss by society of the opportunity to move towards progressive development. Criminals are the factors of anomie, pawns leading society to a new stage, not parasites, people who are not able to go through the process of socialization, elements not alien to society.

Durkheim argued that crimes would be few in number and not large-scale in a society in which there is enough human unity and social cohesion. When social solidarity is destroyed, and the isolation of its constituent elements increases, deviant behavior increases and, consequently, crime increases. So anomie appears Durkheim believed.

The problem of maintaining the solidarity of society is of great importance, according to Durkheim, has the punishment of criminals. The correct understanding of the "laws" of decency and honesty is the initial most important source of the unity of society. To preserve the love of this social structure of the ordinary citizen, punishment of the criminal element is necessary. In the absence of the threat of punishment, the average individual may lose his own deep attachment to a certain society and his willingness to make the necessary sacrifice in order to maintain such attachment. Also, the punishment of the offender serves as a visible social confirmation of his "social ugliness."

Anomie examples. Modern sociological science treats anomie as a state characterized by a lack of self-identity, a goal, or moral and ethical guidelines for an individual subject or a whole society. Below are examples of situations indicating the presence of anomie phenomena in a particular society:

  • state of public disorder;
  • some elements of society do not understand the meaning of life, for them the main thing is the problem of survival;
  • loss of confidence in the coming day.

Overcoming anomie, for the most part, is characterized by dependence on the specifics of the cause of the anomie and the type of conflict that caused it. In situations when the society is not able to form a new normative value system or to raise to the rank of the generally significant any particular, then it turns to the past, looking for grounds for solidarity in it.

In sociology, the phenomenon of anomie was studied not only by Durkheim, it was later significantly developed by the sociologist from America Merton anomie, according to his ideas, is the orientation of individual citizens and social situations that do not correspond to the goals determined by the culture of society. According to Durkheim, the described phenomenon means the inability of society to manage the natural impulses and aspirations of individuals. In turn, Merton believed that many aspirations of the subjects would not necessarily be "natural", often determined by the educational activities of the society itself. The social system limits the ability of individual social groups to satisfy their own aspirations. It "presses" certain individuals in society, forcing them to act illegal.

Merton considered anomie as the collapse of the system of management of individual desires, as a result of which the individual begins to desire more than he can achieve in the conditions of a particular social structure. He notes that the phenomenon being described arises from the inability of many citizens to follow the norms fully accepted by them, and not from the presence of free choice.

Anomie examples can be cited on the model of the device of modern American society, where all citizens are focused on wealth, those who cannot legally achieve financial well-being, seek it with illegal means. Therefore, in many respects deviations depend on the set of institutional means and the presence of cultural goals that a subject follows and uses.

The state of anomia is an absolute discrepancy between the declared and civilizing goals with the socially structured means of achieving them. Applied to an individual member of society, anomia is the eradication of its moral attitudes. In this case, the individual loses any sense of traditionalism, continuity, loses all obligations. Communication with society is destroyed. Thus, without a renewal of spirituality and moral guidelines, a radical transformation of society, the development of new values ​​and norms, the overcoming of anomie is impossible.