Some nonmaterial social facts include morality and

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more generally, culture. Some nonmaterial social facts include morality and Durkheim’s notion of the “collective conscienceness” which he defined as “the totality of beliefs and sentiments common to average citizens of the same society – forms a determinate system which has its own life” (The Division of Labor in Society, 1893). He also said that “social currents” are a type of nonmaterial social fact. Social currents are “the great movements of enthusiasm, indignation, and pity in a crowd.”Durkheim believed that material social facts (our real life thingslike law, church) affect nonmaterial social facts. It was these nonmaterial social facts, how we related to one another, morality, etc, that was the real focus of Durkheim’s work. He was strongly interested in morality and the plight of theindividual in society. He was interested in how society (social structures) affect individuals. In order to scientifically study nonmaterial social facts (his real interest) he turned to understanding our material social facts. Let’s turn now to his studies on the division of labor in society.The Division of Labor In SocietyThe division of labor in a society concerns the way people do work, if you will. We live in a society characterized by very specialized jobs whereas mostprimitive societies have been organized around the idea that every person can perform a great many tasks or jobs. People used to be much more self-sufficient. In our society of specializations, I have to trust other people to do things for me. I have to trust the mechanic to fix my car, the grocery store tocarry my food, factory workers to make my clothes … you get the idea. The division of labor is a material social factthat involves the degree to which tasks and responsibilities are specialized. It is a pattern of interaction among people.Durkheim thought there were two basic types of societies that could be differentiated based on how they were held together – their social solidarity (which he said was directly linked to their division of labor). These two types
of society are characterized as having mechanical solidarityor organic solidarity.Mechanical and Organic SolidarityIn a society organized around mechanical solidarity there is little or no division of labor. People in this type of society are brought together, or unified, because they are all generalists. The bond among people here is thatthey are all engaged in similar activities and have similar responsibilities. Durkheim noted that because people are more similar in what they do, they are also more competitive with one another in this type ofsociety.In a society organized around organic solidarity there is a highly defined division of labor. People in this type of society specialize in certain tasks, and do those tasks nearly exclusively. People in this type of society are held together by their difference. Because people in this type of society perform arelatively limited number of tasks, they must rely upon and trust others to survive. Durkheim believed that because people in this type of society are all

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