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Understanding Society 2: Transformations - Essay Example

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When the concept of anomie is seen in the context of modernity and Durkheim’s approach to the modernity it becomes clear that Durkheim held a negative view on modernity. For Durkheim the emerging social order was unacceptable and provided a negative projection on society and social living…
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Understanding Society 2: Transformations
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The concept of anomie is used to describe the lack of social norms that tends to produce normlessnes (Gerber & Macionis, p.97). Anomie portrays the failure of social bonds between the individual and society. This occurs through the fragmentation of social identity along with a rejection of self-regulatory values. The concept was made popular by the French sociologist Emile Durkheim in his acclaimed work Suicide (1897). The term was borrowed from the French philosopher Jean-Marie Guyau. Durkheim himself did not use the term “normlessness”, instead, he has explained the term anomie by stating “a rule that is a lack of rule”, “derangement” and “an insatiable will” (Mestrovic, 1994). Durkheim views anomie arising in general because of a mismatch between group standards or individual standards and wider social standards. He attributes such happening due to the lack of a social ethic that tends to produce moral deregulation as well as an absence of justifiable ambitions. The concept derives itself from Durkheim’s attempt at delineation of the social causes of suicide that occur due to the absence or reduction of standards or values. A feeling of alienation and purposelessness follows this development which leads to tendency for suicide. Durkheim held that anomie was common when surrounding society underwent momentous changes in terms of its economic structure and stratification. He also explained that when there is a remarkable difference between the ideology of a society, its professed value and its actual daily practices then the probability of anomie is high. The ideas presented by Durkheim lay in opposition to previous agreements on the issue of suicide. Previously it was held that a person committed suicide only due to negative events in a person’s life that led him to anxiety and depression. Once depression overpowered the person’s ability to think and act rationally then suicide was imminent. Durkheim also expounded that traditional religions provided the organised basis for various shared values that were absent in anomic individuals. In addition, he argued that the concept of division of labour that had been dominating since the Industrial Revolution had managed to do more social harm than good (Star et al., 1997). Individuals had begun to pursue personal motives and objectives in place of pursuing social objectives and goals. Consequently, the development of an egotistic approach to living eclipsed the welfare of the social order leading to anomic behaviour in people in society. When the concept of anomie is seen in the context of modernity and Durkheim’s approach to the modernity it becomes clear that Durkheim held a negative view on modernity. For Durkheim the emerging social order was unacceptable and provided a negative projection on society and social living. The Industrial Revolution demanded a mechanised approach to the workplace that promoted efficacy and thus competitive advantage. The mechanisation of people’s lives and the need for devoting greater time to the workplace meant that social bonds became weaker over time. Furthermore, there was social and income disparity in society that was accelerating and creating deeply noticeable chasms. The working class saw the emergence of a new order of traders and industrialists who became rich in a few short years. When members of the working class tried to cross this barrier they found it very hard given that the movement to these new classes had begun to decelerate in the face of competition. Consequently, it became hard for a large part of society to accept that no matter how hard they worked, they would still not be able to make it to the very top. The realisation of this helplessness is what Durkheim has labelled as anomie and he has furthered this concept to delineate causes behind suicide (though this is not the only cause delineated by Durkheim). Additionally it must be noted that Durkheim was markedly influenced by religion and his views on anomie state that religion provides for organised basis to deal with anomie and anomic behaviour. He felt that modernity was reducing the influence of religion on the individual’s life leading to anomic behaviour. Works Cited Gerber, J.J. & Macionis, L.M., 2010. Sociology. Toronto: Canada. Mestrovic, S., 1994. Emile Durkheim and The Reformation of Sociology. London: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Star, S.L., Bowker, G.C. & Neumann, L.J., 1997. Transparency At Different Levels of Scale: Convergence between Information Artifacts and Social Worlds. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Read More
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