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What is Anomie?

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Anomie is a society or culture that lacks unifying norms and identity. This results in a breakdown in social bonds between individuals and the communities in which they live.

Norms

Anomie can occur in a society that lacks norms such as expectations, symbols, shared meaning and standards of behavior. It can also occur in a society in which norms are too rigid such that people don't identify with them. A third scenario is an environment of rapidly changing norms whereby people accept this change or react to this change in a wide variety of ways that produces divisions in society.

Result

Man cannot become attached to higher aims and submit to a rule if he sees nothing above him to which he belongs. To free him from all social pressure is to abandon him to himself and demoralize him.
― Emile Durkheim, Suicide: A Study in Sociology
Anomie is typically described as a dark state that produces apathy, detachment and a lack of moral compass. It makes it more difficult to relate to others socially.

Individualism vs Collectivism

On a scale of individualism to collectivism, anomie is pure individualism whereby people pursue their wants without any regard to others or ability to enjoy shared experiences or pursue shared meaning.

Subcultures & Super Cultures

Individuals who experience a sense of anomie may seek community in subcultures and super cultures. Super cultures are large cultures that exist at the global level such as the culture of a major sport. Subcultures are smaller self-organizing groups that develop shared meaning and experiences around causes, activities, hobbies and interests. For example, volunteer work may provide a sense of purpose and shared meaning that defeats anomie.
Overview: Anomie
Type
Definition
A society or culture that lacks unifying norms and identity.
Also Known As
Normlessness
Attributed to
Emile Durkheim
Related Concepts

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References

Durkheim, Emile. Suicide: A study in sociology. Routledge, 2005.

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The definition of norms with examples.

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The definition of tradition with examples.

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