Critically examine the analysis by Durkheim
Critically examine the analysis by Durkheim of the threats to social solidarity posed by industrialization and discuss possible solutions to such threats. In the late eighteenth century, human societies have developed gradually from pre-modern societies to modern industrial societies. Individualism, capitalism and urbanism are the three key transformations took place in modern societies. All of them have a very important impact on people’s life, or even social stability.
I am going to illustrate these three features and their influences on people and society, including Durkheim’s thesis of the threats to social solidarity, and the possible solution to the threats in the following paragraphs. Durkheim wrote that modern industrial society was characterized by a transition from mechanical solidarity to organic solidarity. “Solidarity which comes from likeness is at its maximum when the collective conscience completely envelops our whole conscience with all points in it. But at that moment our individuality is nil.
It can be borne only if the community takes a small toll of us. “1 In the pre-industrial society, which has a mechanical solidarity, social cohesion based upon the likeness and similarities among individuals in a society, and largely dependent on common rituals and routines. They share the same beliefs and values which Durkheim called ” collective consciousness “, and to a large degree, the same role. The division of labour is comparatively unspecialized, and the basic techniques regulated and repeated from generation to generation.
People are self-sufficient. On the other hand, in the industrial society, social cohesion based upon the dependence of individuals in more advance society is weaved together by a set of interconnecting needs and obligations. In order to produce more goods and services, members of society need to be more specializing in particular role. This led to the division of labour. (Also the result of capitalism. ) The widening division of labour makes for greater individual skill in a society based on mutual interdependence.
” The order and very survival of society depends on their reliance on each other to perform their specific task. ” Durkheim saw that without one another in a highly specialized society, no one could survive. As specialization increases, Durkheim argued, people are increasingly separated, values and interests become different, norms are varied, and subcultures (both work-related and social -related) are formed. Specialization has been seen to set people not only apart, but against each other. Interests often collide and conflict exists.
It encourages individualism and self-interest since it is based on individual differences rather than similarities. Individuals may behave in a rather different way from the behave in a guided and disciplinary way by shared norms. Furthermore, because of the rapidly changing nature of the division of labour, it can lead to disruptions of social solidarity in the modern industrial world, class conflict results as a consequence of unequal opportunity for natural talents. Apart from the specialized division of labour, industrialization also led to the creation of factories, which created new jobs in urban areas.
The attraction of these jobs led to many moving into urban areas abandoning the rural life, (the phenomenon of urbanization); where they worked together as farmers and in cottage industries. The growth in the size of towns, Paris for instance, increased dramatically. In 1901, the population of Paris reached to 2 and a half million. At the same time, problems such as overcrowding, pollution, noises occurred under this circumstance. Durkheim saw urbanization as “destroying traditional communities and creating, instead, interdependence and alienation. ”
Nevertheless, I think one of the biggest threats to an organic solidarity is anomie. Durkheim defined anomie as a state where norms (expectations on behaviours) are confused, unclear or not present. It is normlessness. It characterizes a condition in which individual desires are no longer regulated by common norms and where, as a consequence, individuals cannot find their place in society without clear rules to help guide them. One of the main reasons which anomie results in industrial society is the specialized division of labour, which can be seen as the danger of over- specialization.
People are isolated in highly specialized tasks. Since it encourages individualism, this boils down to the problem of inequality. Some people are relatively well off than the others. However, even the richer people still want more than they can possess. Durkheim said that “one does not advance when on proceeds toward to goal, or which is the same thing when the goal is infinity. To pursue a goal which is by definition unattainable is to condemn oneself to a state of perpetual unhappiness. ” People are restless and dissatisfied. The unhappiness may lead people to suicide.
The tradition restrictions on behaviour have become disengaged; people are lack of moral regulation. Anomie is also characterized by rapid social change, which disrupts the norms governing behaviour and, social role and rules are become more complicated than ever before. ” The scale is upset, but a new scale cannot be immediately improvised. Time is required for public conscience to reclassify men and things. “2 Things such as economic depression could cause higher rates of crime, suicide and deviance. However, Durkheim saw anomie as a temporary problem.
He believed that the solution to anomie could be provided within the existing framework of industrial society. It could be kept within manageable limits through the existence of professional associations to provide social regulations, for instance. ” Occupational associations should be given power to regulate whatever concerns the business: relations of employers and employed – conditions of labour, wages and salaries – relations of competitors one to another and so on. “3 Such associations would solve the problem of anomie in two ways.
One is that they can bring every individual into a social group so that they will be able to re-establish social controls. The other is to establish a consensus about the rewards of the members of society in order to form “the basis for rules to regulate economic activity. ” Durkheim also thinks establishing a code of conduct is essential to give its members a sense of duty, responsibility and obligation. Such professional ethics is considered by Durkheim as “the key to a future moral order in industrial society.
” Other solutions to the threats in industrial society include teaching of moral values in the educational system, and through society functioning in a way that treated its every member or entire membership. To conclude, industrialization certainly brings us many benefits such as the advanced technology, and people have a comparatively much better life. However, at the same time, it creates threats to social solidarity. The lack of social integration, the excessive individualism and class conflict are well result. I think one of the biggest threats to an organic solidarity is anomie.
Namely, society lacks of moral regulation; people have limitless ambitions, as well as the unmeaningful life. It causes high rates of suicide, marital break up and industrial conflict. The possible solution to such threats may be to create a new moral order and, moral unity is based on a sense of mutual social interdependence. To have regulation of markets and working condition to solve the unregulated competition, and to build an equal opportunity for natural talent. These are proposed by Durkheim, which he think could help society keep stable and on going.