Meaning of Anomie


For psychology and sociology, anomie is a state that arises when social rules have been degraded or directly eliminated and are no longer respected by members of a community. The concept, therefore, can also refer to the lack of laws. This name receives all those situations that are characterized by the absence of social norms that restrict them and it is also a language disorder that makes it impossible for a person to call things by their names.

Anomie is, for the social sciences, a defect of society that is evident when its institutions and schemes fail to provide some individuals with the essential tools to achieve their objectives within their community. This means that anomie explains the reason for certain antisocial behaviors and far from what is considered normal or acceptable.

In medicine, meanwhile, the term is used to express those language disorders that prevent some individuals from calling things by their names. The simple explanation for this disorder is that it is about constantly having the feeling of having words on the tip of your tongue. It receives this name because it is characterized by the lack of laws in the language norms.

When speaking, we look for each term in its own lexicon in which fifty to one hundred thousand words coexist. It is an almost instantaneous but absolutely complex process. This ability we have acquired through practice and for this we must have the cognitive system always attentive and prepared, however sometimes it fails and that is why we have gaps when we are expressing ourselves, we see some terms or expressions, etc. Anomie occurs when this difficulty becomes chronic and it is impossible to recover the words when speaking; It is common during aging, when suffering from brain injuries or degenerative diseases (Alzheimer).

Returning to what the social sciences understand by anomie, we will say that it is a violation of the rules, although not of a law: if a person breaks the law, he incurs a crime. Typically, the lower classes of society are under greater pressure and have a greater propensity to move away from shared social norms.

Anomie, ultimately, creates a problem for the rulers since their control mechanisms are not sufficient to reverse the alienation reflected by individuals or groups in this condition.

The main promoters of the concept were sociologists Emile Durkheim and Robert Merton. This last specialist indicates that anomie appears when the objectives of a culture and the possibility of access of some population groups to the necessary means are dissociated. The association between means and ends, therefore, begins to weaken until the breakdown of the social fabric is realized.

According to Emile Durkheim, when a group is highly united, it develops a certain number of norms to regulate behavior and maintain order within it, which establish limits for aspirations and achievements as well as the actions of each individual to provide a certain security to the whole. For him it was not possible to think of social action in an absolutely free way, because without norms there can be no agreements for harmony in a society and guides that collaborate with a linear behavior that is favorable to the whole community. Through group expectations, relationships can be updated and shared in a cultural setting.

For his part, Robert K. Merton, expressed that anomie is synonymous with the lack of laws and control in a society and its result is a great dissatisfaction for the absence of limits as to what can be desired.