Generally, however, retreatism seems to occur in response to
acute anomie, involving an abrupt break in the familiar and accepted normative
framework and in established social relations, particularly when it appears
to individuals subjected to it that the condition will continue indefinitely.
As Durkheim noted with characteristic insight, such disruptions may be
found in the ‘anomie of prosperity,’ when Fortune smiles and many experience
radical upward shifts from their accustomed status, and not only in the
‘anomie of depression,’ when Fortune frowns and apparently exits for good.
Much the same anomic condition often obtains in those patterned situations
which ‘exempt’ individuals from a wide array of role-obligations, as, for
example, in the case of ‘retirement’ from the job being imposed upon people
without their consent and in the case of widowhood (1968, p. 242).