Lecture 15

Lecture 15 - Durkheim Division of Labor Durkheim the...

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Unformatted text preview: Durkheim, Division of Labor Durkheim the “Determinist” Let me begin by enunciating a determinism much more severe than that which Marx is accused of. “Yet what above all is certain is that morality develops over the course of history and is dominated by historical causes, fulfilling a role in our life time. If it is as it is at any given moment, it is because the conditions in which men are living at that time do not permit it to be otherwise. The proof of this is that it changes when the conditions change, and only in that eventuality.” (DOL, Preface to the First edition, xxv-xxvi) Morality By “morality” Durkheim would probably mean “social norms” in the way in which we use these terms today, that is as explicitly stated or implicit guides to behaviour in a society. The question that seems to inform Durkheim’s analysis: what keeps COMPLEX societies together? That is, societies in which uniformity of consciousness, in turn determined by the uniformity of labor in the social division of labor, segmentary societies, “conscience collective.” Mechanical and Organic Solidarity In these simple societies solidarity is MECHANICAL, in complex societies it is ORGANIC. The idea that society is an organism is an old one, almost always a conservative idea, the point being that each individual has a role to perform for functioning of the whole in the same way that the organs of a complex organism perform functions which keep the organism alive. This is why the image is “organic.” It had a deep influence in the 19th century as Darwin’s theory of evolution had an impact beyond the natural sciences and as biology advanced. Organic solidarity, a sociological concept The idea of organic solidarity, however, whether it is right or wrong (to Durkheim it is a “metaphor”) is nevertheless profoundly sociological. It entails the notion that the relationships between the individuals, or the social structure as we would say in modern language, has properties of its own above and beyond the qualities of the individuals. Society has specific characteristics which cannot be inferred from those of the individuals hat compose it. MORALITY is a collective property and must be studied as such. Mechanical and Organic Solidarity Contrast between “solidarity” and “contracts” In stating this, Durkheim was going against the trend of many thinkers of his time who so society as a contract between private interests in which individual is looking at his own interest, in such a way that “the collective interest is only a form of personal interest,” and “altruism is merely a concealed egoism.” This was not only true of a school of thought called utilitarianism but of much political economy besides, including the work of Adam Smith. A “Contract is not sufficient unto itself.” If it were not for the existence of social norms which provide the framework within which contracts are made, then “incoherent chaos” would reign in the economic world. Moral rules, collective needs...
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This note was uploaded on 07/02/2008 for the course SOC 101 taught by Professor Mark during the Spring '08 term at UCLA.

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Lecture 15 - Durkheim Division of Labor Durkheim the...

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