Fenton, Steve. Durkheim and Modern Sociology. Great Britain: Cambridge University Press, 1984.
Simpson, George. Emile Durkheim.
BELIEVE THAT OPPOSITES ATTRACT?
You might have wondered
at some point how you could be attracted to somebody so completely different from you while strongly disliking some one else
who is different in another way. If you can come up with two people to whom this applies, think about their specific differences.
Did the person you liked have differences which complemented you or compensated for what you lacked? For example, did you
believe yourself to be too high-strung and begin to depend on this laidback person to calm you down? Are you very talkative
and rely on this person to be a good listener while this person is shy and relies on you to keep the conversation flowing?
sounds familiar to me. What does it have to do with Emile Durkheim and the division of labor?
A lot! Durkheim says
“If one of two people has what the other has not, but desires, in that fact lies the point of departure for a positive
attraction.” On a larger scale, it is the division of labor which provides the exchange of services which forms associations
the division of labor only pertain to economics?
While the division
of labor might be initially perceived as simply an economic term, Durkheim believed its true function to be in increasing
solidarity between people. He defines solidarity as “cohesion of human groups into a social unity” and specifies
two types: mechanical and organic solidarity.
Associated with mechanical
solidarity is the “conscience collective,” which is “the totality of beliefs and sentiments common to the
average citizens of the same society”(13). The strength of mechanical solidarity depends on three conditions of the
conscience collective: the relation of the volume of the conscience collective to the individual conscience; the intensity
of the conscience collective; and the degree of definition of the conscience collective.
In other words, the
greater the conscience collective, the less individuality people have and the more they resemble each other. In a sense, they
belong to society, not to themselves. With mechanical solidarity, people are linked to each other only through these similar
beliefs, and do not depend on one another for subsistence. Durkheim called a group of people whose cohesiveness is based on
resemblances a horde. A horde has no form or organization and is comprised of indistinguishable parts. Members are regarded
as kin, and they practice collective punishment and collective responsibility. Durkheim called a group of hordes a clan.
Does solidarity change as society evolves?
As society evolves
and becomes less primitive, it moves towards organic solidarity. Organic solidarity does not come from the collective conscience,
but rather, from the division of labor. While mechanical solidarity is possible only when personality is submerged in collectivity,
organic solidarity is possible only when individuals are specialized and different. The more individuality exists, the stronger
the cohesion between people.
counter-intuitive to me. Shouldn’t more individualism create weaker solidarity and less community?
Intuitively, it would
seem that way, but Durkheim argues otherwise. With organic solidarity, individuals are more reliant on each other to satisfy
their deeds, unlike in mechanical solidarity, where they are self-sufficient. People then view each other as irreplaceable
organic parts of the whole system, which they can not neglect, lest they be neglected. This interdependence causes not only
more solidarity, but also a more pronounced moral character, wherein individuals feel responsible for one another. Durkheim
believed that all social evolution tended towards this moral perfection.
that social evolution depends on the division of labor, but where does the division of labor come from?
Durkheim calls the
acting and reacting upon each other of individual segments of society “moral density” and it increases in proportion
to the division of labor. Thus, to understand what increases the division of labor, one must understand what increases “moral
density.” Durkheim believed two factors responsible, which he called “material density” and “social
volume.” Material density is when distance between individuals in a society are reduced spatially, as in the growth
of cities and advances in communication and transportation. The “social volume” of a society is simply the total
number of its members.
But how does
material density and social volume influence the division of labor?
To explain this,
Durkheim used Darwin’s Origins of Species, which theorized
that as long as resources are plentiful and population size is limited, similar organisms can live together in peace. However,
once resources become scarce and population size grows, there is conflict and competition. According to Durkheim, humans reconcile
this conflict by differentiation and the emergence of individuality.
seems so theoretical. Does Durkheim have any empirical evidence?
Mostly, it is very
theoretical, although Durkheim did use some external indexes to measure the decline in mechanical solidarity. One of these
is the decline of religion and another is the decline in the use of proverbs and adages in which “collective thought
condenses itself” (22). The index Durkheim explored the most is law, which he said changed from repressive in mechanical
solidarity to restitutive in organic solidarity. The goal of repressive law is to punish the individual, whereas the goal
of restitutive law is only to ensure that people comply to previously established legal codes.
each type of law correlate to mechanical and organic solidarity?
Durkheim believed that
social life takes a definite and organized form and the best indicator of this organization is law. Repressive law, which
focuses on punishment, is diffused throughout an entire society, imbedded in the conscience collective, and reflects the morals
of the society. Restitutive law, on the other hand, reflects civil, commercial,
procedural, administrative, and constitutional laws. It reflects the many different and complex spheres of society. Durkheim
saw a progression from repressive to restitutive law which accompanied the progression from mechanical to organic solidarity.
he see this progression? What were his sources?
Herein lies a common
critique of Durkheim’s theory. He used the Hebrew Torah, the Twelve Tables of the ancient Romans, and the laws of early
Christian Europe to form his argument about repressive law, but neglected the highly restitutive components of their legal
codes. Not only did Durkheim downplay the restitutive aspects of “primitive” law, but he also downplayed the repressive
aspects of modern law, disregarding its punitive side.