1.2F: Durkheim and Social Integration
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- Contrast the different modes of social integration according to Durkheim
Formation of Collective Consciousness
Durkheim and Modernity
Organic versus Mechanical Solidarity
- Durkheim believed that society exerted a powerful force on individuals. According to Durkheim, people’s norms, beliefs, and values make up a collective consciousness, or a shared way of understanding and behaving in the world.
- The collective consciousness binds individuals together and creates social integration.
- Durkheim saw increasing population density as a key factor in the advent of modernity. As the number of people in a given area increase, so does the number of interactions, and the society becomes more complex.
- As people engage in more economic activity with neighbors or distant traders, they begin to loosen the traditional bonds of family, religion, and moral solidarity that had previously ensured social integration. Durkheim worried that modernity might herald the disintegration of society.
- Simpler societies are based on mechanical solidarity, in which self-sufficient people are connected to others by close personal ties and traditions. Modern societies are based on organic solidarity, in which people are connected by their reliance on others in the division of labor.
- Although modern society may undermine the traditional bonds of mechanical solidarity, it replaces them with the bonds of organic solidarity.
- In the Elementary Forms of Religious Life, Durkheim presented a theory of the function of religion in aboriginal and modern societies and described the phenomenon of collective effervescence and collective consciousness.
- Durkheim has been called a structural functionalist because his theories focus on the function certain institutions (e.g., religion) play in maintaining social solidarity or social structure.
- organic solidarity: It is social cohesion based upon the dependence individuals have on each other in more advanced societies.
- mechanical solidarity: It normally operates in “traditional” and small scale societies. In simpler societies (e.g., tribal), solidarity is usually based on kinship ties of familial networks.