Monday, 6 May 2019


Emile Durkheim’s The Division of Labour (de la division du travail social) is a classic of intellectual analysis. This was the first published book of Emile Durkheim in 1893. The division of labour explains the relation between individuals and the collectivity and the manner in which the multiplicity of individuals achieves the social coherence. Division of labour he postulates as the basis of social solidarity. Solidarity means the solidity of the organization. It is the characteristic trait of a society. The concept of solidarity explains social differentiation or the division of labour in society. It makes individuals interdependent and affects social integration among them. This sociological analysis of Durkheim is based on his interest in social fact; on his acceptance of the functional character of society and of the supremacy of the whole on the part.
Durkheim studied division of labour as a social institution and not as an economic institution as it generally taken to be. He took it to be an institution which produces morality in and of it by subjecting individuals to the duties of their specialized existence. The moral effect of the division of labour he indicated is felt when people complement each other when dissimilar join hands and unity comes out of diversity. It is felt in friendship patterns and in the development of the family. It brings about social co-ordination and leads to solidarity.
In division of labour Durkheim reacted against the view that modern industrial society could be based simply upon agreement between individuals motivated by self-interest and without any prior consensus. He agreed that the kind of consensus in modern society was different from that in simpler social systems. But he saw both of these as two types of social solidarity. The measurement of social solidarity is the intensity of collective conscience. It is the sum total of belief and sentiment common to the member of society. Collective conscience persists through successive generations and keeps them united.
In the “Division of labour” in society, Durkheim employs his evolutionary functionalism to examine the changing bases of social solidarity. According to him, the primitive society is characterized by mechanical solidarity based upon the conscience collective and the advanced society is characterized by organic solidarity based upon division of labour.
The difference between mechanical solidarity and organic solidarity is due to the nature of social differentiation. Durkheim felt that the intensified struggle for existence produced the specialization and division of labour which permit the same resources to support more people. Society undergoes structural and functional differentiation, as different individual activities are grouped into different institutions specializing in their respective functions. Individuals and institutions relate to one another on the basis of the complementary differences which make them mutually dependent on one another. The collective conscience becomes weaker and more abstract, permitting the development of greater individuality and freedom.
Social existence means collectivity. It is based on solidarity which is of two types:
1. Mechanical solidarity – Repressive Law – (involves violent sanctions and aims to punish ordestray the rule violator)
2. Organic solidarity – Restitutive Law – (involves a judgement in terms of damages done by the rule violator and a fine that ‘restores’ the loss of the innocent victims)
Mechanical Solidarity
A society characterized by mechanical solidarity is unified because all people are generalists. The bond among people is that they are all engaged in similar activities and have similar responsibilities. Mechanical solidarity is solidarity of resemblance. As a member of the same group or same collectivity they resemble each other, feel the same emotion and cherish the same values.
According to Durkheim, the mechanical solidarity prevailed to the extent that; “ideas and tendencies common to all members of the society are greater in number and intensity than those which pertain personality to each member”. He suggested solidarity which comes from likeness “is at its maximum when the collective conscience completely envelops our whole conscience and coincides in all points with it.” This solidarity can grow only in inverse ratio to personality. Here individual differences are minimized. In mechanical solidarity we find the strong states of the collective conscience. Collective conscience refers to the sum total of beliefs and sentiments common to the average of the member of the society. This prevails mostly in primitive societies. In mechanical solidarity Repressive law prevails. It prevails at its core underlie the harsh justice and severe punishments which perpetuate the similarities underlying mechanical solidarity.
Organic Solidarity
In contrast to mechanical solidarity in a heterogeneous society where the likeness and the resemblance is missing, the coherent unity of the collectivity is expressed by differentiation; the solidarity that exists is organic solidarity. Such a society is characterized by an advanced form of division of labour. According to Durkheim, increasing density of population is the major key of development of division of labour. This is especially witnessed in the modern industrial societies. The individuals are no long similar. They may be differentiated interms of thinking, emotions and values. They have no collective conscience. The organic solidarity is characterized by specialization and individualism. It is also characterized by the weakening of collective conscience and repressive law. The collective conscience becomes weaker and more abstract, permitting the development of greater individuality and freedom.
Repressive law is largely replaced by restitutive law which calls not for revenge but rather for the return of things to the conditions which would have prevailed had the legal offences, not occurred. The two forms of solidarity correspond to two extreme forms of social organization. Archaic societies are characterized by the predominance of mechanical solidarity. Whereas modern industrial societies characterized by complex division of labour are dominated by organic solidarity. In sum, the course of social evolution is marked by a transition from small, simple, homogeneous tribal societies integrated by likenesses and a powerful concrete collective conscience to large modern differentiated industrial societies integrated by the interdependence of individuals and structures created by the division of labour.
The contrasts between mechanical solidarity and organic solidarity co-exist with some basic similarities:
1. In Mechanical solidarity- likenesses similarities- interaction- moral rules, powerful, concrete, collective, conscience, repressive law – integration
2. Organic solidarity- mutually complementary differences (division of labour) - interaction- moral rules, weaker, more abstract, collective conscience and restitutive law – integration
One difference between mechanical and organic solidarity lies in the impetus to interaction: similarities versus differences. Another is the change in morality embodied in the changing nature of the collective conscience and the transition from repressive to restitution law. Beyond these differences the causal chains are the same, and both mechanical and organic solidarity are proportional to rates of interaction and therefore the strength of the moral rules which integrate society.
Basic of Distinction between organic and mechanical solidarity
Basic of Difference
Mechanical Solidarity
Organic Solidarity
Morphological features
-Low level of population
-Low material and moral density
-Little interdependence
-High volume of population
-High moral density
-Greater interdependence
Type of norms
-Repressive law
-Penal law
-Restitutive law
-Co-operative law, civil, criminal commercial and administrative
Formal features of conscience collective
-High volume
-High determinateness
-Collective authority
-Low volume
-Low determinateness
-More room for individual initiative
Content of conscience collective
-Highly religious
-concrete and specific
-Secular and human oriented
-Abstract and general

According to Durkheim, division of labour is not to be regarded as a mere luxury, desirable perhaps, but not indispensable to society. Social life is derived from a double source: from a similarity of minds and from the division of labour. The division of labour gives birth to regulations and laws which determine the nature and relations of the divided functions. According to Abraham and Morgan“to Durkheim, it is social differentiation begins with the disintegration of mechanical solidarity and of segmental structure. Occupational specialization and multiplication of industrial activities are only an expression of a more general form of social differentiation which corresponds to the structure of society as a whole.”
According to Durkheim, division of labour can only be explained in terms of three social factors: the volume, the material density and the moral density of the society.
        i.            Volume of society: refers to the size of population.
      ii.            The material density: refers to the number of individuals on a given ground surface.
    iii.            Moral density: refers to the intensity of communication between individuals.
With the formation of cities and the development of transport and communication, the condensation of society multiplies intra-social relations. Thus, the growth and condensation of societies and the resultant intensity of social intercourse necessitate a greater division of labour.
Durkheim’s concept of division of labour includes an organic and mechanical solidarity that sub-ordinates the individuals. The concept moves on to describe the supplanting of this subordination by the use of voluntary or organic solidarity in which the individual is influenced by a comprehension of social values. It is also true that society is characterized by an increasing degree of functional organization.
“Social harmony comes essentially from the division of labour. It is characterized by a co-operation which is automatically produced through the pursuit by each individual of his own interests. It suffices that each individual consecrate himself to a special function in order by the force of events, to make himself solidary with others.”
Durkheim was concerned with the social implications of increased specialization. Durkheim argued, as specialization increases, people are increasingly separated, values and interests become different, norms are varied, and sub-cultures are formed.
The division of labour is not without problems. An industrial utopia does not form simply out of interdependence, for specialization has been seen to set people not only apart, but against each other. Interests often collide and conflict exists. Karl Marx spent a great deal of effort identifying the problems that arise due to the division of labour. Durkheim did not fool himself in believing that the changes happening around him as a result of industrialization would bring about total harmony, but he did recognize that though specialization sets us apart, it does, in certain ways, bind us together.
Durkheim says, “But if the division of labour produces solidarity, it is not only because it makes each individual an exchangist; as the economists say, it is because it creates among man an entire system of rights and duties which link them together in durable way.”
Thus, Durkheim deals with the concept of social solidarity and conscience collective in a very scientific method, he negates the view that modern societies are based upon simply contractual agreements and do not have any prior consciousness. However, he agreed that the kind of consciousness characterizing modern societies is different. Yet it is a form of social solidarity.

No comments:

Post a Comment