Durkheim's theory of social order and deviance: A multi-level test

Thorolfur Thorlindsson*, Jón Gunnar Bernburg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


In the present paper, we study the social context of adolescent delinquency in order to examine Durkheim's theory of social order. We use survey data on urban adolescents in Iceland that allow us to examine key theoretical constructs on both the community and the individual levels of analysis. Our findings lend substantial support to the multi-level nature of Durkheim's concept of social integration. Using hierarchical linear regression, we show that both community and individual level social integration indicators have negative effects on adolescent delinquency, and that the experience of anomie mediates a substantial part of these effects. Furthermore, the multi-level context of social integration and anomie moderates the effect of imitation (peer delinquency) on delinquent behaviour. The findings highlight important sociological themes that have been neglected historically in scholarly traditions that have elaborated upon and extended Durkheim's theory of social order.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-285
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Sociological Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported by the University of Iceland Research Fund. We thank three anonomous reviewers of European Sociological Review for helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper.


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