The Division of Labor in Society by Emile DurkheimOriginally published in 1893 and never out of print, Emile Durkheim’s groundbreaking work remains one of the cornerstone texts of the sociological canon—now updated and re-translated in this new edition.As the Industrial Revolution was changing the landscape of society, Durkheim presented a new vision of the social structures at the root of capitalism, and the issues he grappled with still resound today. If pre-industrial societies were held together by common values, sentiments, and norms, equally shared by all, what holds modern societies, with their complex division of labor and non-cohesive social structure, together? What did this new social order mean for the autonomy of the individual? Durkheim argued that class conflict is not inherent in a capitalist society, as Marx contended, but that the unfettered growth of state power would lead to the extinction of individuality. Only in a free society that promotes voluntary bonds between its members, Durkheim suggested, can individuality prosper.
In this new edition, the first since 1984, world-renowned Durkheim scholar Steven Lukes revisits and revises the original translation to enhance clarity, accuracy, and fluency for the contemporary reader. Lukes also highlights Durkheim’s arguments by putting them into historical context with a timeline of important information. For students and scholars, this edition of The Division of Labor is essential reading and key to understanding the relevance of Durkheim’s ideas today.
2.3 The Division of Labour
Only then shall we learn to what extent it is necessary, whether it is an essential factor in social cohesion, or whether, on the contrary, it is only an ancillary and secondary condition for it. To answer this question we must therefore compare the social bond to others, in order to measure what share in the total effect must be attributed to it.
The Division of Labor in Society Background
At the time, "The Division of Labor in Society" was influential in advancing sociological theories and thought. In the book, Durkheim discusses how the division of labor —the establishment of specified jobs for specific people—benefits society because it increases the reproductive capacity of a process and the skill set of the workmen. It also creates a feeling of solidarity among people who share those jobs. But, Durkheim says, the division of labor goes beyond economic interests: In the process, it also establishes social and moral order within a society. To Durkheim, the division of labor is in direct proportion to the moral density of a society. Density can happen in three ways: through an increase of the spatial concentration of people, through the growth of towns, or through an increase in the number and efficacy of the means of communication.
In , Adam Smith opened The Wealth of Nations with the observation that "the greatest improvements in the productive powers of labour, and the greatest part of the skill, dexterity, and judgement with which it is anywhere directed, or applied, seem to have been the effects of the division of labour. More than a century later, Durkheim could observe, apparently without exaggeration, that economists upheld the division of labor not only as necessary, but as "the supreme law of human societies and the condition of their progress. And like Smith, Durkheim recognized that this extended beyond the economic world, embracing not only political, administrative, and judicial activities, but aesthetic and scientific activities as well. Even philosophy had been broken into a multitude of special disciplines, each of which had its own object, method, and ideas. Unlike Smith, however, Durkheim viewed this "law" of the division of labor as applying not only to human societies, but to biological organisms generally. Citing recent speculation in the "philosophy of biology" see the works of C.
January , Sociology of Emile Durkheim. Adams and Sydie begin their discussion of early sociology with a presentation of the sociological work of conservative writers pp. After the French Revolution and the Enlightenment, some writers were concerned with how social order could be maintained in the face of progress, revolution, disorder, and rule by the people. Early sociology is often considered to have emerged out of this conservative reaction to the Enlightenment and the French Revolution — writers such as Saint-Simon, Comte, and Spencer looked on the emergent capitalist society as generally good and progressive, but were concerned about how society holds together given the individualism that emerged and the changes in political order.
These notes were contributed by members of the GradeSaver community. In The Division of Labor in Society, Durkheim views society through the lens of the structural functional approach, and describes social functioning on the basis of social solidarity. Comparing the primitive and modern societies, he identifies the two types of social solidarity as mechanical solidarity and organic solidarity. Durkheim gives an account of the solidarity that characterized primitive society as well as the solidarity found in the modern society. In the primitive society, solidarity was that of 'mechanical solidarity', characterized by a strong common sentiment or 'collective consciousness'. As society progresses and becomes more modern, Durkheim stated in his Division of Labor in Society, that the solidarity would transform into an 'organic solidarity', characterized by a weaker collective conscience. Both the types of solidarity were based on the division of labor in the society, marked by a differentiation of work.
It was influential in advancing sociological theories and thought, with ideas which in turn were influenced by Auguste Comte. Durkheim described how social order was maintained in societies based on two very different forms of solidarity — mechanical and organic — and the transition from more "primitive" societies to advanced industrial societies. Durkheim suggested that in a "primitive" society, mechanical solidarity , with people acting and thinking alike and with a shared collective conscience , is what allows social order to be maintained. In such a society, Durkheim viewed crime as an act that "offends strong and defined states of the collective conscience" though he viewed crime as a normal social fact. In an advanced, industrial, capitalist society, the complex system of division of labour means that people are allocated in society according to merit and rewarded accordingly: social inequality reflects natural inequality, at least in the case that there is complete equity in the society. Durkheim argued that moral regulation was needed, as well as economic regulation , to maintain order or organic solidarity in society.