Culture, Institutions, and Morally Dubious Behaviors: Testing Some Core Propositions of the Institutional-Anomie Theory

Helmut Hirtenlehner, Stephen Farrall, Johann Bacher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study draws on self-report data on the prevalence of morally dubious behaviors in Europe to examine Messner and Rosenfeld's institutional-anomie theory. Institutional-anomie theory tries to explain cross-national differences in crime rates through the interplay between the cultural commitments and the institutional arrangements characterizing a society. The relevant state of research is unsatisfactory and full of gaps. Deficiencies exist, especially with regard to the postulated cultural dynamics. Findings from a series of multilevel models testing the combined effects of cultural forces and social institutions on respondents' engagements in morally dubious behaviors that are committed in pursuit of self-interest-thereby controlling for differences in sociodemographic composition-shed doubt on the theory's explanatory power. Neither the cultural imperatives of the "American Dream" nor the extent of anomic orientations are linked in the expected manner to the observed cross-national variation in rates of moral misconduct across Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-320
Number of pages30
JournalDeviant Behavior
Volume34
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013

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