Anomie (meaning 'without law') describes a condition of disorder and a lack of values and morality within an individual or group. In groups it can be the condition of social unrest and chaotic states. It is proposed to be a mismatch between societal structure and the ideal of the individual or subgroup.

An example used in the literature regarding anomie is the Industrial Revolution which caused many individuals to seek egoist ends that only benefit themselves instead of the greater good of their community and species. Strain theory uses the concept of anomie to explain why some criminal behavior occurs. This theory proposes that society pressures individuals to achieve certain societal and cultural goals (for example, the "American Dream" with the big house and three car garage). But standing in the way of these goals are societal limitations that stop people from attaining that goal such as unfair economic policies, overpopulation, and discrimination. This leads to a state of anomie which leads to some individuals committing crimes and other ethical behaviors in order to reach the goals.

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