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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy
Title Institutional anomie and societal variations in crime: a critical appraisal
Volume 22
Issue 7/8
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2002
Page numbers 45-74
URL http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=14042443
Messner and Rosenfeld have proposed an institutional anomie theory of crime, incorporating the proposition that societal investments in programs to buffer citizens from capricious market forces (decommodification) are inversely related to rates of lethal violence among societies. They support this argument through an analysis of variations in homicide rates among nations. However, the research relevant to their theory is quite limited with numerous claims and arguments yet to be examined. This paper outlines several limitations of the theory and brings data from the World Values Surveys and other sources to bear on their characterization of American culture in comparison to other nations, their arguments about the impact of economic dominance on other institutions, and alternative explanations of the link between decommodification and homicide. Finally, the relevance of the theory to serious property crime is considered and shown to generate serious problems for institutional anomie theory when evaluated as a general theory of crime.

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