International Journal of Comparative Sociology 57(4)

Andreas Hövermann, Eva M Groß, and Steven F Messner*


This research builds upon prior efforts to transport insights from a macro-sociological theory of crime – Institutional Anomie Theory (IAT) – to enhance understanding of an important individual-level phenomenon in advanced capitalist societies – a ‘marketized mentality’. Such a mentality entails a strong commitment to the utilitarian, instrumental values of the market at the expense of more altruistic, expressive values. Drawing upon IAT, we hypothesize that at the individual level, integration into selected non-economic institutions will tend to inhibit the adoption of a marketized mentality, but the strength of this inhibiting effect will vary depending on the degree to which economic institutions and non-economic institutions in society are ‘balanced’ or ‘unbalanced’. Our theoretical arguments imply that observed levels of acceptance of a marketized mentality will vary significantly across societies and that this variation will be related to the degree of imbalance in the institutional order: We expect to observe a cross-level interaction such that the inhibiting effect of integration into non-economic institutions is attenuated as institutional imbalance increases. These hypotheses are assessed in multilevel analyses with data from 25 European countries using the European Social Survey. The results are generally in accordance with theoretical expectations, revealing how an institutional imbalance helps shape people’s value orientations by promoting marketized mentalities and by weakening the socialization effects of non-economic institutions.

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* Denotes CSDA Associates, Affiliates, and Staff