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NCJ Number: 118956 Find in a Library
Title: Durkheim, Individualism and Homicide Rates Re-Examined
Journal: Sociological Spectrum  Volume:9  Issue:3  Dated:(Fall 1989)  Pages:269-283
Author(s): E Smith; S K Wong
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 15
Sponsoring Agency: Washington State University
Pullman, WA 99164
Type: Research (Theoretical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Durkheim's conception of individualism has been re-examined by Messner as an important cause of homicide rates.
Abstract: Messner contends that individualism, in the absence of social equality, acts as a counter-regulative force on behavior because it weakens the collective conscience and mechanical solidarity. As a result, social units cannot control serious crimes such as homicide. Messner also hypothesizes that strong individualism increases homicide rates when social equality is held constant. The authors' interpretation of Durkheim's proposition on individualism, however, indicates that individualism should lead to lower homicide rates, which is the exact opposite of what Messner contends. Further analysis indicates that the effect of individualism on the rate of nonhomicide crimes is in the direction predicted by Messner. It is possible nonetheless that homicide and other violent crimes are affected by individualism in the same manner because collective sentiments that protect the individual from becoming a homicide victim may also protect the individual from similar forms of violence. 26 references, 4 tables. (Author abstract modified)
Main Term(s): Homicide causes
Index Term(s): Behavioral science research; Crime causes theory; Social control theory
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