Monday, 13 June 2011


I came across a new word today playing Scrabble:

Anomie: a collapse of the social structures governing a given society.

Now that is one very useful word! It could usefully describe the slow motion collapse of the financial markets as investors and consumers realise that their interests are no longer protected by fiduciary, exchange, monetary and regulatory structures that once engendered confidence. Or maybe it captures the loss of patriotism and social cohesion in a globalised economy dominated by stateless corporations, their executive elites and their political puppets who are all determined to loot the public treasury while paying no taxes.

One word. So much potential. I will be finding all kinds of appropriate contexts to use it, I expect.


Knute Rife said...

Or when subjects reject the rule of law because they realize the lords rejected it long ago. Yes, great word.

asociologist said...

The word was made famous (at least in my field) by Emile Durkheim in his classic study of suicide rates in different countries (e.g. ).

PeterJB said...

From etymology:


"absence of accepted social values," 1933, from Durkheim's "Suicide" (1897), a reborrowing with French spelling of anomy.
1950, from Fr. anomique (Durkheim, 1897); see anomie.
"lawlessness," 1590s, Anglicized earlier borrowing of Fr. anomie (q.v.); from Gk. anomia "lawlessness," noun of quality from anomos "without law, lawless," from a-, privative prefix, "without" (see an- (1)) + nomos "law" (see numismatics).


1650s, from Gk. nomothetikos, from nomos “usage, custom, law” (see numismatics).
1816, coined in English from comb. form of Gk. metron "measure" (see meter (2)) + -nomos "regulating," verbal adj. of nemein "to regulate" (see numismatics). The device invented 1815 by John Maelzel.
"one who maintains the moral law is not binding on Christians under the law of grace," 1640s, from M.L. Antinomi, name given to a sect of this sort that arose in Germany in 1535, from Gk. anti- "opposite, against" (see anti-) + nomos "rule, law" (see numismatics).
1798, "subjection to the rule of another power," from hetero- + Gk. nomos "law" (see numismatics). Related: Heteronomic; heteronomous.
1828, from Fr. taxonomie (1813), introduced by Linnæus and coined irregularly from Gk. taxis "arrangement" (see taxidermy) + -nomia "method," from -nomos "managing," from nemein "manage" (see numismatics).
1620s, of states, from Gk. autonomia "independence," noun of quality from autonomos "independent, living by one's own laws," from auto- "self" (see auto-) + nomos "custom, law" (see numismatics). Of persons, from 1803.
5th book of the Pentateuch, late 14c., from L.L. Deuteronomium, from Gk. Deuteronomion, lit. "second law," from deuteros "second" + nomos "law" (see numismatics). A mistranslation of Heb. mishneh hattorah hazzoth "a copy of this law" [Deut. 17:18]. The book is a repetition, with comments, of the Decalogue and most of the laws of Exodus. The title was translated literally into O.E. as æfteræ, lit. "after-law."
1800, from Gk. autonomos "having one's own laws," of animals, "feeding or ranging at will," from autos "self" (see auto-) + nomos "law" (see numismatics). Cf. privilege. Used mostly in metaphysics and politics; see autonomic.

Yes, LB - a good discovery indeed.

Anonymous said...

Oxford English Dictionary defines it as a lack of standards ... not too sure where all the collapse of society comes in

PeterJB said...

Quelle surprise

"In a very surprising move, the AP reports that the UK finance minister George Osborne has announced a major overhaul of British banks, the key provision of which will be the separation of bank retail and investment business "in order to help avoid another financial crisis" - an act which is in essence a reintroduction of Glass-Steagall."

Of course, better late... may now have its own problems such as international dysbalances and then there are the counter-party legacies, so I wonder if this is just another knee-jerk? But it surely indicates that somebody sees a problem in the banking sector.

Nassim said...

George Osborne - a brave man - is about to destroy his political career.

They will find some little blemish - preferably with a young lady involved - and direct the media to make sure that he is removed from his post.

His action is considered an "anomalie" by the current political class.

macfly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
macfly said...

Great word, and interesting follow up posts too.

Sadly the word and its consequences are both things quite likely to become a greater part of our reality over the next few years.

Sometimes one wonders if life shouldn't have fast forward and pause buttons, I'd have been happy to have paused on '88 a while longer, and get through this mess a lot faster!

ride said...

Anomie ( anomia )

Greek word coming from the words
nomos witch means law
and "a" witch simply means without



etc etc