Durkheim is a highly influential name to remember when thinking of sociology. Durkheim’s mission was to develop sociology so it could be defined and to develop a method on how sociology should be used. Durkheim’s main concern in his career was primarily associated with how societies might preserve their integrity and rationality within modernised society, when things such as shared religious views and ethnic backgrounds are seen as things of the past. In relation to Durkheim’s social realism his concern was with the growing individualism in society. Durkheim argues that we are in an era which is imperfectly moving towards a morality based on individualism as “Durkheim regarded individualism as a collective representation, a force that would impress itself on human minds regardless of their subjective opinions, as well as the manifestation of the egotistical will”. (Mestrovic 1988: 8).
Ultimately Durkheim was a strong believer that it is society that defines the individual rather than the individual shaping society. For this reason we can clearly see why Durkheim was highly concerned with growing individualism in society, within a society which he believes shapes an individual therefore individuals are highly dependent on society. This can be seen in Durkheim’s theory of the division of labour. Durkheim argues that in a primitive society which is a society which is seen as having more morals and was a much better society to live in this is because society is seen as having deteriorated as civilisation has developed and become modernised. The division of labour within a primitive society therefore is to create or maintain a mechanical social solidarity in which there is a common consensus which allows social order to be maintained.
However as we move away from a primitive society to a more a society which is advanced, industrial and regarded as a capitalist society the division of labour becomes much more complex. Durkheim argues that within this society its members are allocated within the division of labour depending on the amount of merits you have and so the more merits you gain the more rewards you will have. Thus Durkheim argued that in this modern society in order to maintain order moral and economical regulations are needed.
Durkheim thought that the transition from a primitive society to an advanced society would bring about disorder, conflict and a lack of social norms and consciousness (anomie). This then relates to individualism because Durkheim would argue that as we move towards a modernized society where a common consensus is diluted to an individualistic viewpoint it can be seen that individuals are becoming more influential in society rather than society influencing individuals which confused Durkheim.
As Durkheim said that “My work had its origins in the question of the relations of the individual to social solidarity. Why does the individual, while becoming more autonomous, depend more upon society? How can he [sic] be...