Anomie Sociology Definition

Definition of Anomie

Durkheim came up with the sociological term “anomie,” which describes a situation of society or a human relationship to society in which there is no agreement or confidence about values, morals, and aims. The 1893 publication The Division of Labor in Society introduced this concept. The ethical and moral framework regulating community and individual life is ineffective in anomie.

Anomie means the absence or operational inefficiencies of societal normative control. This lack of rules is typical of societies where individualism is the primary value, and there are no counter-values of social solidarity. This scenario makes people care more about their happiness and emotions at the expense of others.

Sociological Explanation

According to Durkheim, anomie arises when the community fails to establish a social norms-based restricting framework. According to Durkheim, anomie is a social form that is “abnormal” and results from modern cultures’ failure to effectively transition from the mechanical solidarity that characterized pre-modern civilizations to the organic solidarity that would come to represent modern society.

Durkheim asserts in his 1897 book Suicide that there is a link between suicide rates and anomic societal events, such as a relationship between rates of suicide and rates of divorce. 

According to Durkheim’s theory of anomie, anomic suicide occurs when normative restrictions are missing, when sudden social changes cause norms to lose their ability to control the behavior and conduct of individuals in society. It explains why males who’ve been divorced and under economic crises have higher suicide rates.

Contrasting to Marx, Durkheim maintained that as long as the division of labor is well managed, it is not a problem. Durkheim argued that, in rare instances, the division of work will, nevertheless, assume an anomic form, either due to a lack of control or because the degree of regulation does not correspond to the amount of growth of the division of labor. The anomic division of labor is how he refers to this situation.

Robert K. Merton says that a state of anomie is caused by the US society’s strong focus on cultural goals like individual success without focusing on legitimate norms like education and work.

According to Robert Merton, social problems arise when there is a mismatch between the culturally established aims and the institutionalized methods available to achieve these goals.

Anomie is the outcome of the demoralization or removal of a society’s lawful methods, which makes specific social classifications’ members more prone, relying on their socio-economic circumstances, to use illegitimate and often criminal means to achieve contextually appropriate aspirations.

The word anomia, coined by Leo Srole (1956), refers to the social psychological states of mind of persons who are presented with anomie-like social settings.


The social conditions deteriorated, and organized crime flourished in the US during the depression.

Increase of suicide among divorced men due to weak social cohesion.


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