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Emile Durkheim's Work Essay

925 words - 4 pages

Emile Durkheim's Work

Emile Durkheim established the logic of the functional approach to the study of social phenomena and ‘social facts’. The principle conceptualization, on which most of Durkheim’ s work is founded, rests in the analogy of society acting much like the human organism. In that, it is a system or whole composed of interrelated parts, which are all necessary and work interdependently for an optimal functioning. Consequently, he was interested in the effects of the historical development of the division of labour on societies. In both chapters offered for analysis, Durkheim focuses on the issues of social solidarity and differentiation in society. Essentially, he centers his discussion on the ties that bind a society together in larger social networks as well as the mechanisms on which social solidarity is created. In the following paper, a discussion will be generated concerning two selected passages from Anothony Giddens book, titled Emile Durkheim: Selected Writings. The two passages will be discussed in context to Durkheim’s overall theory.
As previously highlighted, Durkheim concerned himself with explaining the cog in the mechanism responsible for creating and perpetuating social solidarity in increasingly divergent societies. In order to cultivate greater understanding of the machination of social solidarity in society, Durkheim proposed that essentially society was founded within ‘two forms of consciousness’- mechanical and organic solidarity:
“There are in each of us, as we have said, two forms of consciousness: one which is common to our group as a whole, which consequently, is not ourself, but society living and acting within us; the other, on the other hand, represents that in us which is personal and distinct, that which makes us an individual. Solidarity which comes from resemblance is at its maximum when the conscience collective completely envelops our whole consciousness and coincides in all points with it,… It is quite different with the solidarity that the division of labor produces. Whereas the previous type implies that individuals resemble each other, this latter presumes that they differ” (Giddens, p.139).

Durkheim suggests that in less complex societies the links between people take the form of mechanical solidarity. In other words, society is tied together with a strong system of common beliefs and simplistic version of a division of labour. Labour, such as gathering or hunting is performed by everyone inorder to survive. Societies founded on mechanical solidarity are self- sufficient, members rarely if ever, look outside their social bonds. Whereas, the division of labour discovered within society’s founded on organic solidarity, is contingent on an interdependency of its members. Herein, Durkheim’s principle conceptualization resurfaces- although complex division of labour increases specialization of the individual occupation it is the interdependence of these specialised labourers that make...

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