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Although Durkheim’s concept of anomie referred to a condition of relative normlessness of a society or social group, other writers have used the term to refer to conditions of individuals.In this psychological usage, anomie means the state of mind of a person who has no standards or sense of continuity or obligation and has rejected all social bonds.
The teen, now an adult, was chronically unemployed and felt worthless, with no direction or sense of purpose.
The teen became involved in crime as an outlet, because he felt that there were no other options; to try to achieve a higher purpose would be a waste of time. This time, imagine a single mother living in the projects.
Both of these examples show people who feel a lack of purpose, frustration, and illustrate despair.
They both believe that the quest to try for other work would be useless, so they turn to crime. The idea of anomie means the lack of normal ethical or social standards.
In other words, the person is alienated, feels worthless and that their efforts to try and achieve anything else are fruitless.
Therefore, with lack of any foreseeable alternative, the person falls into criminal activity.
She has applied to a college program at night, but even with financial aid, she cannot afford the tuition.
She ultimately turns to a life of crime selling drugs, because she can make money for her and her child, and she feels that there is no legal way that would make sense.
When a social system is in a state of anomie, common values and common meanings are no longer understood or accepted, and new values and meanings have not developed.
According to Durkheim, such a society produces, in many of its members, psychological states characterized by a sense of futility, lack of purpose, and emotional emptiness and despair.