anomie Key term in Durkheimian sociology, referring to the loss, on the part of an individual or group, of norms to guide social interaction. The concept serves to illuminate the relationship of individual behaviour and experience to the social structure. Norms mundanely constitute a framework that restricts the aspirations and goals of individual members of a society, so that they are coherent with the means available for their realisation. For Durkheim (1952, 1984) this coherence is a pre-condition of human happiness. The collapse or erosion of this framework (for example through increasing individualism), or the expansion of available means (for example through rapid economic growth and prosperity), lead to a discrepancy between means and goals. 'The scale is upset; but a new scale cannot be immediately iniprovised. Time is required for the public conscience to reclassify men and things.' (Haralanibos 1985: 238, citing Durkheim). The term was further developed by P.K. Merton (1968), as a general theory of deviancy. Certain groups may experience a conflict between the goals positively valued by a wider society, and the means available within their particular group. The dominant normative framework of the wider society is therefore abandoned, and theft, for example, is adopted as a deviant means to achieve normal goals. [Edgar/Sedgwick, 2002]