Breakdown in the social structure or the smooth working of society may be temporary, or may lead to social change and ultimately social disintegration -- the falling apart or destruction of the social fabric, resulting in a widespread loss of identity, apathy and social conflict and, ultimately, in national disintegration. Depending on the social norms and culture, social breakdown may occur in the form of strikes, violence, intimidation, delinquency and crime, anarchism, decadence including promiscuity, sexual deviation, marriage and family breakdown, alcoholism and drug addiction, or corruption. Social disintegration and collapse may involve ethnic disintegration and loss of cultural heritage, poverty, unemployment, hunger, homelessness, anarchy and immorality. It is aggravated by corruption, cultural invasion, war, natural disasters and debt.
If there is a massive process of "perverse globalization" it would most probably result in an increase in movements reaffirming "elemental identities". The sequelae of conflicts and threats to peace are easy to understand. Social disintegration, in its twofold sense of "atomie" and "anomie", is one of the main effects of globalization as a "wild" uncontrolled process of mobility in economic factors, communications and exchanges and the subsequent destruction and restructuring of life systems. Atomie would be the process of social disintegration or "atomization" and "anomie" would be the process of "cultural disintegration", the disintegration of broader cultural concepts that make democratic social life possible. The upsurge of racial, ethnic/religious or simply local violence is related to the appearance of these disintegrating processes in both the social and cultural spheres.
The most marked social disintegration is to be seen in certain Third World countries. It may also exist to a less noticeable extent in industrialized countries.
The depression in Western society has become much more than economic. There is a sense of cultural decline, namely a loss of capacity to keep countries going in the way people have grown to expect. Both the optimism and self-confidence, evoked by the historical vindication from the fall of communism, have melted away.