Degree Year

2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Sociology

Advisor(s)

Veljko Vujacic

Keywords

Anomie, Durkheim, Emile Durkheim, Sociology, Theory, Culture, American culture, Merton, Parsons, Mental health, Depression, Anxiety, Status anxiety, Goal-attainment

Abstract

The term anomie has declined in the sociology literature. Apart from brief mentions, it has not featured in the American Sociological Review for sixteen years. Moreover, the term has narrowed and is now used almost exclusively to discuss deviance. This project explores Durkheim's original use of the term, and whether modifications of his work--by Merton, Parsons, and others--are useful or muddling. We also present critiques of the term, evaluating them in light of Durkheim's intentions. Possible explanations for the decline of anomie theory are given, including academic explanations (e.g., classical sociology was replaced by newer theories like symbolic interactionism) and political explanations (e.g., Durkheim's functionalism became too "conservative" for the New Left). Finally, we argue that the United States is a highly anomic nation, with its focus on freedom, eternal striving, and self-advancement. We apply a Durkheimian perspective to contemporary issues like mental illness, exploring rising rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide as a consequence of these anomic conditions.

Included in

Sociology Commons

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