Introduction: The theory of Aanomie has two principal theorists; the first is Durkheim, the founder of this theory and second is Merton whothat extends and systematizes the theory. However, these theories have fundamental differences that are ignored because of hegemony of Merton’s theory on sociological researches. What is known as anomie theory in sociology and sociology of deviances is theory of Merton mainly. This studypaper aimed to explain and contrasts the anomie theory of Durkheim and Merton, iIn particular to explore their differences. This is important due to false interpretations of these theories. and ignorance their differences in academic resources and social researches on anomie. In addition to the theoretical aspect, due tobecause of anomic situation in Iran, particularly in the last decade about whichthat many experts have consensus about it, this study has application importance as well. and numerous researches that use theoretical framework of anomie theory, this study is necessary and useful. Finally the ways of measurement of anomie areis discussed.
Critical review: The results of this study showed that between Durkheim and Merton anomie theory, from the point of view of the amount of emphasis on the aspirations, goals and means of achieving them, the importance of time and speed of change, anthropology and the origin of aspirations and desires, the emphasis on moral base rather than behavioral norms of order, the effects of social classes on anomie and extend and inclusiveness of explanation there is a difference..
The findings of this study show many important differences between theory of Durkheim and Merton; including different emphasis on goals and aspirations and means that is required to reach them, periods of time and speed of change, human nature and origins of aspirations and desires, emphasis on moral base vs behavioral norms of order, relationship of class with anomie, and the extend and inclusiveness of explanation.
While anomie for Durkheim is defined by unlimited aspirations, from Mertonian perspective, anomie is the lacks of legitimate means offor achieveing limited or even prescribed aspirations. Periods of time and speed of change areis an important and determinant factor for Durkheim, but Merton has no attention to theseis factors. Durkheim pays attention to both acute anomie and chronic anomie, but Merton only studiesd the chronic anomie and for this reason, speed of change was no matter of importance in his theory. Durkheim emphasis on economic crises -boom or bust- and its social and moral consequences. Economic crises are roots of acute anomie. From Durkheimian perspective, anomie occur after economic crises (boom or bust); but Merton completely eliminates the issue of economic crisis. For Merton, unlike to Durkheim, ambition is not infrom the nature of human but is influenced by culture. Durkheim attends to the moral base of order, but versus Merton attends to the normative base of itsocial order. InFor Durkheim’s opinion, higher classes are more exposed to anomie and its consequences like suicide., However,but Merton believesf that achieving goals and aspirations the opportunity of success is not equal for all, and the lower class is more exposed to strain.; Tthus,› this class is more likely to commit crimes or other nonconformity behaviors. From Durkheimian’s perspective, anomic situation can explain only a part of social problems and social deviances, but the theory of Merton triesy to explain the wider range of deviances.
In explanation of differences of anomie theory of Durkheim with anomie theory of Merton, differences in level of development of their societies is emphasized. French society in era of Durkheim was more traditional than to American society in era of Merton. In this French society ambitions and having high aspirations were not normal and condemned. While in American society these aspirations not only prescribed but also encouraged.
In the field of anomic researches, anomie is measured in two main ways; the first, by anomie scales and second by measuring of aspirations and the probability of attainment to them. So, the findings of researches in anomic area not comparable. In none of these methods, there is not same procedure, same statement and same questions. So, findings even in each of these two main ways of measurement of anomie aren’t comparable. Because of this situation, knowledge in area of anomie is less progressive and less cumulative.
Discussion: Although Merton’s theory of anomie is known as an extensiond of Durkheim’s theory of anomie, but there are important differences between them. Sometimes these differences can guide researches into different ways (such as effects of classes).like the different assumption between these theories about effects of social class on anomie and different emphasis of these theories on aspirations/goals and means). Each of these theories has distinct capabilities. By understanding of these capabilities, it is possible to better use them. For example, unlike Merton, Durkheim has special emphasis on the changes and crises particularly economic crises. With regard to economic crises of Iran during the last decade, the theory of Durkheim is more applicable to explain the situation of Iran. and it is possible to use the capacity of this theory to analyze these situations.
In explanation of anomie situation, Durkheim emphasis on aspirations while Merton emphasis on means and ways to attainment these aspirations and goals. So we can conclude that in rapid social and economic changes, that it is more probable that aspirations arise and social regulations disrupted, theory of Durkheim is more applicable and appropriate.
Differences between these theories and their ambiguities resulted in different definitions, and meanings and measurement of anomie. The result of this study showed thats, because of differences in approaches a single can’t reach to same definition and same measurement cannot be reached, thus each approaches according to its assumptions should have its own measurement according to its assumptions.