Emile Durkheim Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 08:25:15
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Category: Émile Durkheim

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Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) is rightfully considered by many as the father of sociology. Durkheim is responsible for incorporating sociology as a science, into the French academic curriculum, when he initiated the Science Sociale. The Division of Labor in Society is among his most noted works. In 1879, he joined other political and intellectual leaders like socialist Jean Jaures and psychologist Pierre Janet in the famous Ecole Normale Superieure.

His four important works were Division of Labor in Society (1893), The Rules of Sociological Method (1894); Suicide : A Study in Sociology (1897) and The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (1912) (Durkheim). Durkheims Views on Social Bonding Emile Durkheim is one of the earliest sociologists who used a scientific approach in studying sociology. He emphasized the importance of socialism in philosophy, law and history. In his book Division of Labor in Society (1893), Durkheim talks about relationship and bonding among individuals within a society.

Society is likened to a live organism having various systems to perform the essential functions of the society. The social state is maintained by the people through their adherence to social rules associated with strong beliefs. He reveals two types of social bonding or cohesion in a society, which he termed as mechanical solidarity and organic solidarity. According to Durkheim, the mechanical solidarity was more applicable to pre-industrial societies in which individuals had similar or nearly similar work, thus ruling out inter-dependence.

Here the cohesion was formed and sustained by the existing social system and was therefore dependent on the system as a whole. On the other hand, increased industrialization in developing societies; find people taking to various activities. People begin to diversify in their work and related activities, with some getting more and more sophisticated or specialized too. Demarcation of labor is more visible here, resulting in interdependence of individuals within a society; and Durkheim calls this bonding as organic solidarity.

According to Durkheim, society to a big extent is controlled by integrity or morality, which ensure that peoples aspirations are within reasonable and socially accepted limits. In individualistic societies, the level of social integration is low which is further lowered as the individualism factor rises. Durkheim was of the view that organic solidarity is more cohesive than mechanical solidarity because we depend more on the differences existing between us rather than the similarities between us.

He also noted that the rate of suicide is inversely proportional to the level of integration existing in the society. He reasoned out that the suicide rate fell during the Second World War because war played the role of a social integrator. Durkheim was of the view that only a stable and hierarchical society would be suitable for us, given our emotional and psychological framework. Durkheim saw social facts as being different from psychological facts and maintained that social life is not purely based on psychological facts (Smelser). Durkheim had earlier maintained that social life was held by the legal system.

He then shifted his stand to emphasize that moral rules become internalized and begin to exist independent of the individual. Constraints on an individual are no longer a external factor, but a moral obligation (Coser, 1977). He saw social solidarity as a pure moral phenomenon, which cannot be observed or evaluated, but suggested that it could be studied using an external index. The social solidarity factor could be studied by correlating and interpreting external parameters relating to tastes in art, costumes etc.

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