YEAR 2018 N.º 1

ISSN 2182-9845

The role of the system of justice in a Society in anomie: constrains and challenges in Portugal

José Neves Cruz


Institutional anomie; system of justice; cultural values; polity and social institutions; human development; happiness.


This study addresses the role of the system of justice when problems of institutional anomie occur, applying this reflection to the Portuguese case. After a brief presentation of the theory of institutional anomie, some signs of anomie in Portugal were identified, taking into account the cultural values associated with the American Dream, the economic pressures in Portuguese society, the situation of political and social institutions and the evolution of instrumental crime. In this context, it is shown that the justice system is called upon to play a crucial role in reducing the effects of anomie, that is to say, in the prevention of instrumental crime, in terms of its deterrent role in crime and its contribution to strengthening of political and social institutions. The analysis developed points to a strong relationship between the quality of the system of justice and: i) human development; ii) the subjective well-being perceived by citizens, that is, happiness. The results indicate that the Portuguese system of justice, compared to several European countries, presents weaknesses in dealing with the effects of anomie.