Free «Emile Durkheim» Essay Sample

According to Durkheim, society does not only comprise a collection of individuals; it comprises social relationships as well as forms of social organization. These factors independently regulate individual as well as collective behavior; thus Durkheim’s argument is that society has a sui generis reality, which translates into reality of its own (Dillon, 2010). Durkheim views personality as characteristic patterns of behaviors, thoughts as well as feeling that brings out the unique aspect of an individual. Personality has both social and biological aspects. This, he argues that is a result of the fact that man has two components, the soul and the body. He further refers to nonhuman elements as the components that play invisible role in human sociology. Durkheim argues that these invisible elements are significant in hastening bureaucratic administration in order to achieve increased economic efficiency (Addicott, 2012). On the other hand, he defined social currents as collective emotions of a society which overrides individual’s own emotions.

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While addressing solidarity in the society, Durkheim was more interested in the issues that hold the society in place. He believed that the society was held together by harmony as opposed to the conflict, a theory that was fronted by Weber and Marx. According to Durkheim, solidarity refers to the coming together of human groups that yields a social unity. He describes two types of solidarity, mechanical and organic, based on the issues that foster unity. Mechanical solidarity characterizes a primitive society while organic solidarity characterizes modern society. In mechanical solidarity, differentiation of labor that members of the society are engaged in is minimal. This was due to the fact that societies then tended to be small as well as homogenous. In this society, shared beliefs  and common conscience regulate social relations. Mechanical solidarity is exemplified by a case in which almost every family within the society has the father as a hunter whiles the mother is a food gatherer. Most of these families are self sufficient and do not really depend on others for survival. Moreover, because of the similarities in their duties they tend to have mutual understanding (Bolender Initiatives, 2013).

In organic solidarity, the society is held together by division of labor as opposed to mechanical solidarity that draws its cohesive force from collective conscience. In this society, individuals cannot sustain themselves. They therefore rely on others such as butcher, guard, grocer, teacher among others to supply them with products and services that they need in life. In addition to more solidarity, this interdependence creates more evident moral character; members of the society feel responsible for one another. A clear contrast that exists between mechanical and organic solidarity concerns the utilization of resources. Due to the similarity of occupation that exists in mechanical solidarity, individuals tend to compete as they scramble for the available resources. On the contrary, individuals in organic solidarity tend to share from the same resource base as a result they complement each other (Dillon, 2010).

Durkheim also argued that the occurrence of deviance and crime set the two types of society apart. He observes that altruistic suicides are common in primitive society and are majorly caused by excessive integration. In such societies, with mechanical solidarity, the society becomes everything while the individual remains as nothing. Modern societies often have more incidences of egoistic suicide as opposed to the altruistic suicide in primitive society. Egoistic suicide is prone to happen in societies that have insufficient social integration, as societies characterized by organic solidarity (Richardson & Roberts, 2011).

According to Durkheim, collective representation is a symbol that has common shared meaning for individuals of a given society.  Notably, such symbols are historical; thereby, it reflects the social group’s collective experiences over time. Not only symbols in object form qualify the collective representation reference, basic concepts that determine how individuals relate to their surrounding are considered as collective representations as well. American flag and God are among collective representation symbols. On the other hand, individual representations entail perceptions and sensations and are inferior to collective representations (Dillon, 2010).


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