Social Change, Anomie, and Violent Crime in Russia

Sang Weon Kim, University of Oklahoma

In the wake of the dissolution of the former Soviet Union, Russia has experienced great social and economic change, resulting in anomic conditions. Further, as the country moves toward capitalism, it is likely that Russians are beginning to adopt a capitalist ideology and an emphasis on individual economic success that (as Merton and other anomie theorists have noted) may go unchecked in the accompanying anomic environment. The American dream may now be the Russian dream. This post-Soviet Russian environment provides a unique opportunity to test the efficacy of Durkheimian theories and their intellectual heirs, such as Messner and Rosenfeld's institutional anomie theory. This study does just that by employing official socioeconomic and mortality data from Russia's 89 regions in order to test the hypothesis that the degree of the capacity of non-economic institutions (such as family, education, and polity) is negatively related to regional homicide rates, while the levels of economic indicators of the transition to capitalism (such as privitization and foreign capital investment) are positively related to regional homicide rates.

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Updated 05/20/2006