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18 JANUARY 2015

Emile Durkheim: social explanations

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TAGS

Barclay Johnson • collective consciousnessconsumerismdivision of labourEmile DurkheimFrederick Engelsglobalisation • Hans-Peter Muller • Imre Szeman • individualisminterdependence • Isabel Ortiz • James Henry • Karl Marxmacrosociology • Matthew Cummins • mechanical solidarity • modern organic solidarity • organic solidarity • Paul James • pre-modern mechanical solidarity • premodern • social explanations • social factssocial theoristsocial theorysociologist • solidarity • Tom Bottomore • Whitney Pope

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
29 DECEMBER 2003

Urban Theory: the disintegration of social relationships into anomie

"Durkheim, writing towards the end of the nineteenth century, feared the disintegration of social relationships into 'anomie'. This constituted a situation where the norms and expectations surrounding behaviour were no longer known. The onset of industrialisation would create normlessness and social breakdown. He identified, as a key feature, the shift from a community based upon mechanical solidarity to one based upon organic solidarity. Mechanical solidarity was where the moral ideas and values of a society were shared by all members, collective authority was absolute and. deviants were not allowed. Conformity to the rules was expected of all the population and was enforced by strong sanctions. The basis of this form of solidarity was the homogeneity of moral beliefs across the population. In contrast, organic solidarity was based upon social differentiation and a key integrating role was played by the division of labour. The new form of solidarity was thus based upon the interdependence of specialised parts. Norms, rules and laws were organised, not around repression, but through contracts between individuals and groups which were legally binding and enforceable via the judiciary and court system. Stability and integration would be rebuilt on the basis of necessity. None of us could survive in the new industrialised urban world on our own; we all depended upon the activities of each other. The newsolidarity that Durkheim saw emerging came out of our diversity rather than being imposed by our homogeneity as it had been under 'mechanical solidarity'. He thus termed this new form of solidarity 'organic solidarity'."

(David C. Thorns, 2002, p. 23)

David C. Thorns (2002). "The Transformation of Cities", Palgrave Macmillan.

Durkheim, Émile. 1960. "The Division of Labour in Society". New York: Macmillian.

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