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What Held Societies And Social Groups Together

1281 words - 5 pages

Durkheim was a social theorist whose main concern was the basis of integration and solidarity in human societies. Initially, his focus was society as a whole, later he brought his attention to examining rituals and interactions of people in face-to-face contact. Durkheim’s main concern was to analyze how societies could maintain their integrity and coherence in the modern era, when things such as shared religious and ethnic background could no longer be assumed. In response to this concern, he wrote greatly about the effects of laws, religion, education and similar forces on society and social integration. He didn’t understand how individuals could feel tied to each other in an increasingly individualistic society. Durkheim wanted to explain what held societies and social groups together and how it was done.
Durkheim used a number of concepts in order to explain what held societies and social groups together. The first concept he used was social facts. This concept is defined as “the conditions and circumstances external to the individual that, nevertheless, determine one’s course of action.” Durkheim argued that social facts can be determined by collective data such as suicide. “Social solidarity, or the cohesion of social groups,” (Appelrouth and Edles 2012) was another concept and issue Durkheim used and focused on in his studies. He felt that without some form of solidarity and moral cohesion, society could not exist. Durkheim broke solidarity down into two forms, organic and mechanical. Organic solidarity is defined as “solidarity that is typified by feelings of likeness.” (Appelrouth and Edles 2012) Mechanical solidarity is defined as “solidarity that is a function of interdependence.” (Appelrouth and Edles 2012) Mechanical solidarity is fixed on everyone doing and feeling the same thing. But organic solidarity focuses on the referral to each person as interdependent with others. Collective conscience is another concept Durkheim used which is defined as “the totality of beliefs and sentiments common to average citizens of the same society.” (Appelrouth and Edles 2012) Durkheim believed that is was collective conscience or sameness that held non-industrial societies together. The characteristics of a collective conscience include volume, intensity, determinateness, and content.
Anomie is a term defined as “lack of moral regulation” (Appelrouth and Edles 2012) that Durkheim used in his studies of the division of labor. Durkheim stated that an anomic division of labor happens during the evolution from mechanical solidarity to organic solidarity and rapid change is the cause of this abnormality. Social morphology or social structure is another one of Durkheim’s concepts that is defined as “the assessment of nature, number, arrangements, and interrelations among parts.” (Appelrouth and Edles 2012) These parts may be individuals or corporate units such as groups. Social change, another concept Durkheim used, is defined as “the cause...

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