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Emile Durkheim was a sociologist who pioneered in the study of social order. He theorized how societies maintained social order on mechanical and organic forms as well as transitions to industrialized society form a primitive one.
In a primitive society, people act and think alike because of a mechanical solidarity. On the other hand, an advanced society will have its people in divisions of labor where they are allocated and rewarded accordingly. Both moral and economic regulations are necessary in order for social order to exist and can be achieved by putting in place laws. The transition, therefore from a primitive to an advanced society may cause a crisis which eventually ceases upon maturity into an advanced society.
Division of labor has an important role to play in the society since it does not rely on provision of economic services only, but also creates harmony between people. Economists would only look at division of labor as a means to increase production although much more need to be derived from it in form of living in new and better conditions. This fact contrasts with Marx theory which looks down upon division of labor as individualizing people and creating inequality in labor.
The core principal why division of labor is vital is that humans derive happiness in being free to possess material thing and to seek them. This makes its influence to be on a personal level and based on one’s psychological liking. Specialization in the face of division of labor creates a need in individuals to operate on a communal basis so that they may maximize the returns and hence increased happiness. As opposed to Marx theories, private property will not achieve much and he proposes a communal setting.
The application of Durkheim’s theory on division of labor may be of great value to modern society. He uses scientific methods to explain the source and evolution of an ordered society. This gave rise to sociology which envisions the society as being composed of several factors which must act in tandem. Wherever there is a common ideology between people living together, they tend to have creative thinking that can be of use to them. This works well especially if they are great in numbers since they can always support each other. Division of labor has had a history of revolution to what it is today.
Chapter 5: The Increasing Preponderance of Organic Solidarity and its Consequences
Durkheim, in his division of labor theory proposes an organic like solidarity. The presence of laws to govern and regulate the society in that solidarity is essential. But what is ironical is that laws governing a society are sometimes repressive and apply to specific parts. The relationships in a society that would require penal measures are few compared to areas where say domestic, contractual and commercial laws may find application. The solidarity that may be sought by a common conscious society does not get the fullest expression in law. Cooperative law does not meet the threshold to enable social cohesion to take place.
There is need to find relationships that exist although it has not been done previously. Organic solidarity contribution to the general harmony of a society need to be studied in detail and understood so that its application may be of benefit. An individual attachment to a society in dependent on a number of factors which includes forces and bonds which in turn may be strong or weak. This however may not be a reason why an individual may choose to remain in or leave a society.
A case in study is the traditional tribal chiefs who got left by their followers in case of misunderstanding or difference in opinion. Under division of labor, events are somewhat different since people tend to rely on each other to meet their needs. A society would never risk being isolated from the rest of humanity because what they lack in provisions is obtained from the other society. An individual in such a circumstance of isolation may feel isolated and disturbed. To counter this, some tribes have systems of incorporating new members into the society by naturalization or adoption. A good example is Romans who provided refuge for those conquered during the war and hence the primitive society grew.
The adopted individual was supposed to absorb the practices and beliefs of this new society. Solidarity ensures the person sticks if and only if there is harmony and relationships are maintained.
There are various rules forbidding acts contrary to the sentiments of the collectivity which are either positive or negative and may involve such fields as religion, nationality, domesticity, work, traditions and sexual relations. Others have to do with personal conduct and possessions. Each of these sentiments has respective rule which may change over time according to the society and its level of advancement.
In is notable that some of the rules have origin in the Ten Commandments or even in ancient civilizations like Greek and Romans. Morals were very important and an accusation of failure to comply was punishable. For example sentiments dealing with sexual relations are punishable according to the Pentateuch and various verses in the Bible support this. In addition, the Romans and Greeks too would define those acts they deemed immoral and either fine or punish the offender.
Many other civilizations like Egyptians and West African tribes had ways to punish crimes committed and in different ways. Each crime on the other hand has different punitive measures it attracted. In religion, a number of taboos, sacrifices and rites were observed to please the deities. An individual failure to follow the norm could be deemed an outcast or even killed. Sexual immorality too had set down rules defining for example the kind of normal relationships and abnormal ones.
The rules and regulations that existed sometimes ago were not always perfect and or applicable to each emerging situation. Slaves for example, despite being human, were excluded from justice whether they were against the society laws on not. In many societies, children are treated differently from adults and this can contribute their rights being denied. Modern society has nevertheless grown and so has the regulation that need to be in place. But what is evident is that no new rules have been introduced; only the intensity of their application has increased. The area of jurisdiction has also moved from the general society to be more individual oriented.
Religion has been the most complex factor contributing to differences in social life. Each religion has its own deity and ways of life which need not necessarily conform to other people in order for them to exist. Further, religion has seen people make choices on where to live, who to associate with, eating habits, dressing and many other aspect of life. In primitive societies, such issues brought about many conflicts albeit in modern society, they have declined due to emergence of other aspects and disciplines of life. Economics, politics and other sciences have led people to differentiate between religion and social life; these two used to be synonymous. Any problem can thus be dealt with according to the field it belongs.
Traditions have too been a hindrance because of the many and diverse teachings from the ancestors. Proverbs which encouraged or discouraged people in their endeavors still have power over people’s life. They in fact created a course on which an individual had to pass through out their life.
Comparing one society to another is important so as to learn the best ideals for the modern ones. Division of labor in the face of all progressions in societies has been forefront in defining if those societies survive or perish. It is the division of labor that has acted as a glue to stick individuals together and whole societies in general. Modern technology and studies will help in learning the best forms of societies to maintain.
Chapter 2: The Forced Division of Labor
Existence of rules does not necessarily mean harmony. It is the same rules that make it possible to have evil in society.
For example in a class was, division of labor created conflicts since those in the lower class may not be content with their share and contribution. This fact contrasts in other organisms which regardless of their position still maintain their class and work towards achieving goals assigned to them without desire to occupy other elements position or role.
The scenario is different when it comes to human society because of ambitions and desires. No one can argue that they were destined for a particular type of job or live. When such discomforts arise it is then inevitable to change course and seek fulfillment elsewhere. Division of labor as already discussed is meant to produce solidarity and since this can not be achieved in cases of imitation common to humans, change and adjustments are necessary. A good case was recorded between plebeians and patricians where division of labor existed. Sooner, the plebeians began to imitate the upper class and sought the same roles they had because they had reached a point to see everyone in equal times. Conflicts arose resulting to a conclusion that solidarity can only be imperfect for it to exist.
An individual nature must be in harmony with all social functions failure to which division of labor can not occur. This is achieved by realizing different abilities each an individual has and the skills they possess. But still there are some people who set higher goals beyond their abilities and therefore happiness is to them comes only after fulfilling their dreams. To such people, they should be made to understand that proportionality to ones means is important. Spontaneity becomes an element of use in every social setting where solidarity is implied.
Individuals must also be able reject forced labor and no obstacles should hinder their pursuit to fit in any position. Caste system has seen people with abilities prevented from accessing jobs even though they have ability to perform. In modern times a trend similar can be found in some careers where it becomes very difficult to be absorbed or as if one is not right to be found there. Inequalities of this kind however have been in decline as people embrace fairness in employment for instance in public sector. Organic solidarity is compromised by external inequalities and this is by far felt by higher societies.
Interesting enough is the fact that although individuals may feel dissatisfied because of inequalities; they will not be against the social order which is the root cause. They continue to support it considering that they derive beliefs and practices from the same society. The social order has also morals and religious systems that are deemed sacred. Inequalities are bound to be natural in such circumstances that an individual will suffer alone without raising eyebrows.
In contrast, every cause affecting organic solidarity weakens the social bond. If any condition is touched then the whole set up suffers greatly and it translates to individuals disengaging from the social order. Equality is vital in external conditions so as to secure an individual to his or her function. All higher societies may require a consensus and shield themselves from any disturbance. The main difference between primitive and higher societies is the presence of voluminous laws that govern them. Contractual solidarity comes into play for the society to continue to live in harmony.
Everything in any society has a social value that represents the usefulness of it towards meeting people’s needs. This value can not be measured mathematically but can only be felt. If it fluctuates, which can be caused by abnormal activities, the effort received must equal the effort given to create equilibrium. But generally humans would rather receive more than what they gave out thus a constraint need be in place to counter this effect. A sufficient condition for an equivalence to take place is that parties under a contract be placed under equal external conditions. When equality is achieved, complains become less and every individual therefore feels content. Contracts therefore will lead to consensus after having been through the necessary relations like ceremonies, intentions and formulae.
Just as in the ancient civilizations, Romans, the rule and application of law was important in determining if a contract is null and void. Modern societies tend to shy away from real application of law and refuse to accept certain aspects of contracts. Example is when one party is placed at the mercy of the other and therefore becomes oppressed because they are weak. The public conscience will demand equal treatment and also value for whatever transaction there was.
Economists have contributed by pointing out the spontaneity of social life should be devoid of constraint which only makes it deviate from natural causes. Morality and freedom are two values that ought to be checked so that they remain within the set limits. Regulation eventually brings about liberty.
Some areas where inequality is observed are, for instance, physical strength and domestic life where each man can be higher or lower in comparison to another. This means then that liberty is not present. All external forces must be subordinate to social forces for social life to develop. It requires a man to sober up and become a social being in order that he can live with nature in harmony.
Modern societies, unlike previous ones, need to work hard to mend social relationships. Moving away from the past where segmented social life was common to organized and developed societies. The earlier people depended on faith to survive and modern ones require justice. It is important to pursue these conditions as long as social revolution remains and no factors change.
Relationship between the two chapters:
The two chapters deal with organic solidarity and its merits and demerits in social life. As has been discussed in both chapters, division of labor is a very important feature in every social life. It ensures that people are left a choice to make the best out of their lives by embarking or playing on roles that would be beneficial to them. Both chapters encourage presence of division of labor with one insisting on presence of regulation and the other dealing with inequalities and external forces. Solidarity ensures unity so that whatever a person may wish to acquire can be achieved by depending on another say for assistance.
The individual person is also considered the most important in the society since he is the smallest unit that defines what that society will look like. Therefore, the individual despite being regulated in his endeavor for sustainability also need to have certain freedoms. Regulation can happen by putting in place laws that will govern the daily undertakings of man to an extent where nobody is liable to cause conflicts. These laws must therefore be just and fair to every member of a society.
Freedom in a society is also encouraged so that each individual acts in accordance with their abilities. This then means that systems which do not promote freedom of choice like the caste system need to be abolished to pave way to freer societies. Freedom can too be extended to material possessions whereby each person can possess as much as he may require in achieving happiness. Religion despite it playing a center stage in moral development should not be a hindrance to social progress.
Elimination of forced labor is essential so as to ensure a person makes his choices out of free will and they are not coerced to follow a direction against their wish. Employment especially in public places should be done by considering one’s abilities and skills and not the social background they come from.
Equality is another factor that has been emphasized in both chapters; be it in accordance to an individual in relation to another or to factors affecting social life. In regard to an individual, equality comes about when transacting goods and services with other people. It ensures that a service received is commensurate to the one rendered and that no party gets to oppress the other. Isolation of an individual by the rest of the society is also considered to ensure that they become as much part of a society as possible.
In conclusion, both chapters stress the need for division of labor in modern societies if they have to last. Such therefore can be attained in an environment where there is harmony, solidarity, equality, liberty, and just regulation. Durkheim, being the father of sociology, has made immense contribution and his theories if put to work can work for the benefit of mankind.
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