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Durkheim's Theory of Division of Labour
Meaning of Division of Labour: . The concept of "Division of Labour" has been used in three ways: (I) in the sense of the technical division of labour, it describes the production process; . (ii) as the sexual division of labour, it describes social divisions between men and women; I) as the social division of labour, it refers to differentiation in society as a whole. [It is in the third sense that Durkheim uses this term.]
. In a general sense, the term division of labour involves the assignment to each unit or group a specific share of a common task. As used by the early classical economists such as Adam Smith (1776), the term describes a specialisation in workshops and the factory system, and explains the advantages accruing in terms of the increased efficiency and productivity from these new arrangements?
Durkheim's Optimistic View of Division of Labour: . "While Marx was pessimistic about the division of labour in society, Durkheim was cautiously optimistic. Marx saw the specialised division of labour trapping the worker in his occupational role and dividing society into antagonistic social classes. Durkheim saw a number of problems arising from specialisation in industrial society but believed that the promise of the division of labour outweighed the problems.
Two Main Types of Social Solidarity: . As it is made clear that the main theme of the book "Division of Labour in Society" by Durkheim is the relationship between the individual and society. The nature of this relationship could be stated in the form of two questions: (i) How can a large number of individuals make up a society-? And (ii) How can these individuals achieve 'consensus' which is the basic condition of social existence? . In his attempts to answer these vital questions Durkheim drew up a distinction between two forms of solidarity namely: (i) mechanical solidarity and (ii) organic solidarity, respectively. These two types of solidarity were found in the traditional tribal societies and in the modern complex urban societies.
. The Link between Division of Labour and Social Solidarity Meaning of the Concept of Solidarity: i. "Social solidarity" is synonymous with social cohesion or social integration. ii. Social solidarity refers to "the integration and degree or type of integration, manifest by a society or group. ii. Social solidarity refers to "the condition within a group in which there is social cohesion plus co- operative, collective action directed towards the achievement of group goals
The basis of social solidarity is different in simple societies and complex societies. Durkheim made comparisons between the primitive and the civilised societies in terms of his concept of solidarity. According to him, the primitive society is characterised by "mechanical solidarity" based on the "conscience collective"; and the advanced society is characterised by "organic solidarity'" based on the "division of labour."
1. Mechanical Solidarity: . As defined by Durkheim, mechanical solidarity refers to "social solidarity based upon homogeneity of values and behaviour, strong social constraint, and loyalty to tradition and kinship. The term applied to small, non-literate societies characterised by a simple division of abour, very little specialisation of function, only a few social roles and very little tolerance of individuality.
As Durkheim has stated mechanical solidarity is solidarity of resemblance. It is rooted in the similarity of the individual members of a society. In the society where this kind of solidarity prevails individuals do not differ from one another much They are the members of the same collectivity and resemble one another because "they feel the same emotions, cherish the same values, and hold the same things sacred
The society is coherent because the individuals are not yet differentiated." Here we find the strong states of the "Collective Conscience." Collective conscience refers "to the sum total of beliefs and sentiments common to the average members of the society." This prevails mostly in primitive societies. The common conscience completely covers individual mentality and morality. "Here social constraint is expressed most decisively in repressive, severe criminal law which serves to maintain mechanical solidarity."
. 2. Organic Solidarity: . As defined by Durkheim, organic solidarity refers to "a type of societal solidarity typical of modern industrial society, in which unity is based on the interdependence of a very large number of highly specialised roles in a system involving a complex division of labour that requires the co-operation of almost all the groups and individuals of the society. . This type of solidarity is called organic because it is similar to the unity of a biological organism in which highly specialised parts or organs, must work in co ordination if the organism [or any one of its parts] is to survive"'
Organic solidarity is almost the opposite of mechanical solidarity. According to Durkheim, increasing density of population is the major key to the development of division of labour. Organic solidarity emerges with the growth of the division of labour. This especially is witnessed in the modern industrial societies. Division of labour and the consequent dissimilarities among men bring about increasing interdependence itn society. The interdependence is reflected in human mentality and morality and in the fact of organic solidarity itself. In organic solidarity, consensus results from differentiation itself.
. Here the stress is on restitution of rights rather than on punishment. An increase in organic solidarity would represent moral progress stressing the higher values of equality, liberty, fraternity, and justice. Even here, the social constraints in the form of contracts and laws continue to play a major role. Differences Between Mechanical and Organic Solidarities * Durkheim formulated the distinction between the two types of solidarity by identifying the demographic and morphological features basic to each type. He also identified the typical forms of law, and formal features and content of the conscience collective, which ought to be associated with each type
. Division of Labour and Anomie: * Division of labour, though an essential element of society can do great harm to the society if carried to the extreme. Durkheim was quite aware of this and hence had cautioned against the adversee consequences of unregulated division of labour. "Anomie" is one such adverse consequence. In fact, Durkheim was the first to use this concept.
Durkheim was probably correct in his view that the division of labour and the resulting growth of individualism would break down shared commitment to social norms, and it seems plausible that there is widespread anomie in modern societies. Yet these societies do retain some broad consensus on norms and values, as we can readily see when we compare one society with another, say, the United States with China. . Although this consensus seems much weaker than that in preindustrial societies, it is probably still strong enough to guide most individual behaviour and to avert the social breakdown that Durkheim feared. Durkheim's analysis remains valuable, however, for his acute insights into the far-ranging effects that the division of labour has on social and personal life.
. Concluding Remarks: . Durkheim's views regarding division of labour could be summed up in the words of Raymond Aron in the following way: According to Raymond Aron, the philosophical idea which underlies the theory of "division of labour" could be summed up like this: "The individual is the expression of the collectivity itself it is the structure of the collectivity that imposes on each man his peculiar responsibility." "Even in the society which authorises each man to be himself and know himself, there is more collective consciousness present in the individual consciousness than we imagine." Collective imperatives and prohibitions, collective values and things held sacred are needed to bind individuals to the social entity.
Hence Durkheim felt that only if all the members of a society were tied to a common set of symbolic representations or to common set of beliefs about the world around them, the moral unity of the society would be safe. "Without them, Durkheim argued, any society, whether primitive or modern, was bound to degenerate and decay."
. Emile Durkheim's De la division du travail social (The Division of labour) 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 achieve 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 effects social integration among them. This sociological analysis of Durkheim is based on his inte acceptance of the functional character of society and of the supremacy of the whole on the part. rest in social fact; on his . 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 itself by subjecting individuals to the duties of their specialized existence.
But he saw both of these as two types of social solidarity. The measurement of social solidarity is the intensity of collective conscience. lt 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 characterised by mechanical solidarity basec upon the conscience collective and the advanced society is characterised by organic solidarity based upon division of labour.
Social solidarity Mechanical Solidarity Organic solidarity Repressive Law Restitutive Law (Involves violent sactions and aims(Involves a jugement in terms of to punish ordestray the rule violator)damages done by the rule violator and a fine that "restores the loss of the innocent victims)
Mechanical Solidarity: A society characterised by mechanical solidarity is unified because all people are generalists. The bond among people is that they are all engaged in Similar activities and nave 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, cherish the same values.
* 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 characterised 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.
. Organic solidarity emerges with the growth of division of labour. This is especially witnessed in the modern Industrial societies. The individuals are no long similar. They may be differentiated in terms of thinking, emotions and values. They have no collective conscience. The organic solidarity is characterised by specialization and individualism. It is also characterised 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
Mechanical Solidarity Interaction + Moral rules +Integration Likenesses Similarities Powerful Concrete Collective Conscience. Repressive Law Organic Solidarity MutuallyInteractionMoral rulesIntegration Complementary differences (Division of Labour) Weaker more abstract collective conscience restitutive Law
. 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 restitutive 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.
"Social harmony comes essentially from the division of labour. It is characterised 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 Max 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."
To sum up, 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.