Structural Anomie and Crime: A Cross-National Test
Anomie is a highly prominent theoretical construct in macro-social, particularly cross-national, criminological inquiry. Yet despite its prominence, it has proven to be quite elusive with regard to its measurement and, hence, making it nearly impossible to test theoretical hypotheses regarding its predictive efficacy. Although the concept, whether derived from Merton’s classic conceptualization or from its current incarnation in the form of institutional anomie as developed by Messner and Rosenfeld, is multidimensional and complex in its theoretical structure, most researchers have attempted to operationalize it through simple, single-item, often surrogate/proxy measures. The present research note attempts to develop a measure that is more consistent with its multidimensional and complex nature. This more complex operationalization is then examined with regard to its efficacy at predicting cross-national levels of both homicide and theft. Our results suggest that that this new operationalization has considerable predictive efficacy, accounting for approximately one third of the variation in the cross-national level of both homicide and theft.