Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: November 23, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412959193 | Print ISBN: 9781412959186 | Online ISBN: 9781412959193| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Messner, Steven F., and Richard Rosenfeld: Institutional-Anomie Theory
Eric P. Baumer
It is a well-established fact that crime is substantially more prevalent in some societies than others. Why? What can explain this pattern? These basic questions have stimulated a significant body of criminological theory and research over the past several centuries, and it is the central question to which institutional-anomie theory is directed. Institutional-anomie theory refers to a theoretical argument developed by Steven F. Messner and Richard Rosenfeld to account for variation in levels of serious crime across nations and, in particular, to explain why rates of acquisitive crime (e.g., robbery) and lethal violence are especially high in America. Messner and Rosenfeld outlined their explanation in the first edition of Crime and the American Dream and elaborated on some of the implications of their argument in subsequent editions of the book. This argument has become widely referenced in the literature as institutional-anomie theory or IAT. Institutional-anomie theory builds on Robert Merton's ...