Durkheim Essay

1928 words - 8 pages

When Durkheim theorizes the anomic division of labour, he does not mean that this abnormal form is a system without norms. What he means that norms continue to exist, and to some extent, continue to govern our lives; however these norms do not share a collective consciousness. What Durkheim is really expressing is that there is an absence in the society. It is this necessary element of society whose role is to act as an over-arching system with the purpose of regulating norms. Without this norming of the norms; there is no coordinated, coherent knowledge system. This puts the overall integrity of disciplines such as science, and the accumulation of knowledge at risk. People no longer possess the ability to consolidate their knowledge and therefore cannot communicate said knowledge with one another. This produces the anomic division of labour. That is, a division of labour that deranges due to a lack of understanding one another. A special type of an anomic division of labour is the forced division of labour, which is a kind of system that Durkheim fears as a threat to social solidarity.

In this abnormal form, society lacks a regulative normative superstructure of the social class system. It is in these types of societies, that the lower class can become dissatisfied with their roles given by custom or law, and in turn: civil or class war ensues. Durkheim, as a structural functionalist, illustrates this with comparison to a human body. An organ or a cell in the human body would never assume a role that is not rightfully its own. It can perform the role it has been prescribed badly; however, for instance, the liver cannot assume the role of a heart. It cannot and it does not try and become a heart, nor does it want to. These organs, and likewise people in societies, are prescribed their roles because they are within the realm of their capabilities.
Durkheim does not believe we are destined to become a professor, or a doctor, or a garbage man at birth. Instead, he believes that we “possess tastes and aptitudes that limit our choice [of employment]”. If we do not realize our own abilities and attune our careers in their favor, then we will inevitably become unfulfilled and look for ways to end this dissatisfaction. This would involve discarding the previous order of things, and subsequently, the beginning of a new one, which would disrupt solidarity. Therefore, in order to ensure solidarity, there must be no disparity between one’s role and one’s job; they must be one and the same.

As Durkheim writes, “Labour only divides up spontaneously if society is constituted in such a way that social inequalities express precisely natural inequalities.” In the case of the forced division of labour, he means is that the division of labour does not align with the spontaneous distribution of natural talents. The two elements that are crucial to social functioning have ultimately become unbalanced. People are not doing jobs that fit their natural ability, the...

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