Revisiting the measurement of anomie
van der Bles, AM
Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Sociologists coined the term “anomie” to describe societies that are characterized by disintegration and deregulation. Extending beyond conceptualizations of anomie that conflate the measurements of anomie as ‘a state of society’ and as a ‘state of mind’, we disentangle these conceptualizations and develop an analysis and measure of this phenomenon focusing on anomie as a perception of the ‘state of society’. We propose that anomie encompasses two dimensions: a perceived breakdown in social fabric (i.e., disintegration as lack of trust and erosion of moral standards) and a perceived breakdown in leadership (i.e., deregulation as lack of legitimacy and effectiveness of leadership). Across six studies we present evidence for the validity of the new measure, the Perception of Anomie Scale (PAS). Studies 1a and 1b provide evidence for the proposed factor structure and internal consistency of PAS. Studies 2a-c provide evidence of convergent and discriminant validity. Finally, assessing PAS in 28 countries, we show that PAS correlates with national indicators of societal functioning and that PAS predicts national identification and well-being (Studies 3a & 3b). The broader implications of the anomie construct for the study of group processes are discussed.
This research was supported by a Discovery grant from the Australian Research Council's Discovery Project funding scheme (DP120100053) to Jolanda Jetten and funding from the Center for Social Conflict and Cohesion Studies (FONDAP 15130009) and Anillos CONICYT (SOC1103) to Roberto González. We thank Heather Smith, Anh Thai, Desiree Ryan, Alexandria Jaurique, Viivi Mäkinen for comments on a previous draft of this paper and for their assistance in data collection.
Vol 11, No. 7, Article no e0158370