Anomie is a central concept in the social thought of Emile Durkheim. Anomie literally means a-nomos, "none-law". Durkheim uses the term of Anomie to refer to a condition in which an individual of a group loses the guiding norms which organize social discourse. It is a condition in which good and bad, right and wrong breakdown and become incoherent to such an extent that people no longer have guidelines through which to engage with reality. Durkheim's concept of Anomie is related to his understanding of the relationship between the individual and the social structure. Social norms regulate our behavior in a manner that makes us compatible with reality. In his seminal work, "Suicide" (1897), Emile Durkheim holds that the congruence of our held values with that of society is a precondition for happiness, since it assures us that are desires are constructed within the scope of available means for their satisfaction. The breakdown of norms (due to rapid historical changes such as modernity) lead to a mismatch between personal means and ends. When you want more than you can have reality seams alienated. The scale of things, the organizing principle of reality, breakdown and individuals struggle to make sense of their existence. Durkheim lists Anomie as one of the four possible reasons for suicide.
Additional article summaries by Emile Durkheim:Emile Durkheim - The Rules of Sociological Method
Emile Durkheim - Suicide
"The Genesis of the Notion of the Totemic Principle or Mana" – summary and review" - part 1 -2 -3
What is Social Fact?
Division of Labor in Society
Elementary Forms of Religious Life
Types of Suicide according to Emile Durkheim