Fight Club: Emile Durkheim's Anomie Theory

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Danny Svenelid Term Paper – Fight Club 10/04/2016 SY 4540 A social system that is in anomie is one that no longer accepts common values and rejects common meanings that were once widely accepted and understood, while simultaneously lacking new values and meanings to replace the former ones. Anomie theory is used to help explain why deviant behavior exists in modern society and what social changes have occurred in order to cause such behavior. In layman’s terms, this theory gives way to understanding why criminals are exactly that, criminals. There have been different versions of the anomie theory over the course of history but the first person to introduce the concept of anomie was French sociologist Emile Durkheim in 1893 (Carls). Durkheim’s…show more content…
In modern society, everyone wants the latest and greatest iPhones, cars, clothing, accessories; the list goes on and on. The age of technology and social media make consumerism more prevalent now than ever before and it seems plausible to think that our society, like the one depicted in Fight Club, allows the things we own to characterize us as people. . Companies and businesses are able to advertise through many different outlets like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, which many of us interact with daily. You can order anything, from anywhere, at anytime in today’s world with a click of a button. It’s a race to see who can get the newest, most expensive hot commodity until its time to do it all again for the next one. With consumerism setting the values for society and applying the pressure to obtain these items, it forms a divide between those who can and those who cannot afford these objects. How will those who cannot afford the things society deems valuable conform to the rest of society? How will they feel like they are a successful, contributing part of society? Merton would believe that those who cannot obtain those societal values and/or goals through legitimate means would be at risk of entering an anomic state. Those who know what the socially accepted goals are (i.e. to own that new convertible) but do not have the availability to achieve those goals are more prone to deviant behaviors. Which in modern society is common. You read about it in the news all the time – people stealing or committing crimes because they were unable to afford the thing they were stealing. The pressures society puts on people to possess what society deems valuable puts those who are unable to own such items at a disadvantage, leading them down the path of deviant
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