Durkheim

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Durkheim

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Department of Sociology, Hallym University, fall 2011<br />Chapter 2: Karl MARX (1818 - 1883)<br />(Sociological Theory: George Ritzer)<br />Ange B.B ROLYNE<br />Summary: General Issues<br />There are two main themes in the work of Emile Durkheim:<br />–The priority of the social over the individual<br />– The idea that society can be studied scientifically<br />• The key problem for Durkheim was one of integration<br />– In light of large scale social change in the organization of labor, how does a society maintain order and stability<br />– Emphasized social processes that regulate asocial behavior and bind individuals to the collective<br />– While criticized heavily over the years, Durkheim illuminates a fascinating question of how the endless diversity in action, affect, and is continually bound and rebound into the routine structures of society.<br />Social Facts<br />Key elements: ‘Sociology’ (coined by Comte) did not really exist in Durkheim’s day, to make it distinct Durkheim emphasized ‘social facts’, social facts “sui generis: unique”<br />For Durkheim, society is made up of “social facts” which exceed our intuitive understanding and must be investigated through observations and measurements. Social facts or the social structures and cultural norms and values, can be seen as “things” and be empirically studied (cf. philosophy), are external and coercive to the individual (cf. psychology), and are explained by other social facts.<br />According to him, there exist two broad types of social facts: material and non-material <br />• Material social facts are directly observable and include:<br />– Society<br />– Structural components of society (Church, State)<br />– Morphological components of society (Population distributions, channels of communication)<br />• Nonmaterial social facts are larger and more powerful realm of moral forces and include:<br />– Morality (Norms and values)<br />Durkheim was concerned about the moral “health” of modern society and the “pathological” loosening of moral bonds which could enslave the individual by ever-expending and insatiable passions;<br />– Collective conscience<br />The totality of beliefs and sentiments common to average citizens of the same society forms a determinate system which has its own life; one may call it the collective or common conscience…It is thus an entirely different thing from particular consciences, although it can be realized only through them.<br />– Collective representations (religious symbols, myths…)<br />Durkheim used the term to refer to both a collective concept and social “force”. They represent collective beliefs, norms and values, and they motivate us to conform to these collective claims. They can be connected to material symbols;<br />– Social currents<br />Both types lead to problems of externality to the actor; as a solution to this problem, Durkheim focuses on the individual interactions which “obey laws all their own” when people begin to interact. Individuals are still necessary as a kind of substrate for the nonmaterial social facts, but the particular form and content will be determined by the complex interactions and not by the individuals. <br />The interactions, even when non-material, have their own levels of reality. this has been called “relational realism”.<br />The Division of Labor in Society<br />Key elements: works focused on the transformation of work in modern society<br />In this work Durkheim discusses how modern society is held together by a division of labor that makes individuals dependent upon one another because they specialize in different types of work. For him, the division of labor does not represent the disappearance of social morality so much as a new kind of social morality (cf. Comte).<br />The change in the division of labor has had enormous implications for the structure of society and Durkheim focuses on a changed way in which Social solidarity is produced or in which society is held together and how its members see themselves as part of whole. He distinguished two types of solidarity in society:<br />• Mechanical Solidarity <br />A society characterized by mechanical solidarity is unified because all people are generalists; it is a society with little division of labor, a self-sufficient primitive society (similar activities, responsibilities…)<br />• Organic solidarity <br />A society characterized by organic solidarity is held together by the differences among people, by the fact that all have different tasks and responsibilities. This society can be considered as more modern and had a greater and more refined division of labor.<br />The increasing division of labor has also as producing very different issues in the collective conscience.<br />Durkheim believed that the cause of the transition from mechanical to organic solidarity was dynamic density. This concept refers to the number of people in a society and the amount of interaction that occurs among them. More people means an increase in the competition for scarce resources, and more interaction mean a more intense struggle for survival among the basically similar components of society.<br />Durkheim studied these different types of solidarity through laws. A society with mechanical solidarity is characterized by repressive law, while a society with organic solidarity is characterized by restitutive law. <br />Perhaps the most controversial of Durkheim’s claims was that the sociologist is able to distinguish between healthy and pathological societies. A healthy society can be recognized because the sociologist will find similar conditions in other societies in similar stages. If a society departs from what is normally found, it is probably pathological with abnormal forms. <br />Suicide<br />Key elements: Anomie, different types of suicide<br />As a sociologist, Durkheim was interested in explaining differences in suicide rates; that is, he was interested in why one group had a higher rate of suicide than did another. <br />To show that that suicide rates vary across societies and over time, Durkheim proposed a related historical comparative method of different societies or other types of collectivities. He examined and rejected a series of alternative ideas about the cause suicide (alcoholism, heredity…) as well as the imitation theory (people commit suicide because they are imitating the actions of others i.e. Gabriel Tarde). He found that changes in the collective sentiments lead to changes in social currents, which in turn, lead to changes in suicide rates; social facts are critical factors.<br />Durkheim argues that two social facts, in particular, influence suicide rates: <br />• Integration, strength of attachment people feel to society<br />• Regulation, the degree of external constraint on people<br />Durkheim distinguishes between four types of suicide that correlate to these two social facts. Egoistic suicide occurs when the individual is not well integrated into the larger unit integration in society; altruistic suicide is a result of too much integration in society; anomic suicide occurs when the regulative powers of society are disrupted (less regulation); and fatalistic suicide occurs when regulation is too excessive. <br />Elementary Forms of Religious Life<br />Key elements: analysis religion most primitive forms, society creates religion<br />Durkheim always believed that social forces were akin to natural forces and always believed that collective ideas shaped social practices as well as vice versa; that is why a theory on religion. He proposed a theory of ritual and effervescence that addressed the link between social facts and human consciousness.<br />Durkheim’s work focuses on a sociological connection between sociology of religion and a theory of knowledge. He found the enduring essence of religion in the setting a part of the sacred from all that is profane. The sacred is created through rituals that transform the moral power of society into religious symbols which bind individuals to the group and the rest (the mundane aspect of life) are defined as profane. According to Durkheim, the moral bond becomes a cognitive bond that shapes the categories we use to understand the social world.<br />The differentiation between the sacred and the profane is not sufficient conditions for the development of religion. Three other conditions are needed:<br />• Development of a set of religious Beliefs<br />• Development of a set of rituals, rules of conduct which prescribe how man should comport himself in the presence of sacred objects<br />• Development of church or a single overarching moral community<br />Individuals learn about the sacred and religious beliefs through participating in rituals and the church.<br />Then according to Durkheim “a religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them”.<br />Because Durkheim believed that society is the source of religion, he was particularly interested in totemism among the Australian Arunta. Totemism is a religious system in certain things, particularly animals and plants, come to be regarded as sacred and as emblems of the clan, a complex form of social organization. Totems are the representation of the clan itself and then are the material representations of the non-material force. In totemism, the ability to classify nature into cognitive categories is derived from religious and ultimately social experiences. Totemism and more generally religion derived from the collective morality and become itself impersonal force.<br />Durkheim offers a powerful sociology of knowledge that explains our “true” knowledge in terms of social force. Six fundamental categories which some philosopher had identified as essential to human understanding: classification, time (rhythms of social life), space (division of space occupied by society), force (experiences with social forces), causality (with imitative rituals as origin), and totality (society itself). These six categories may be abstract concepts, but they are all derived from social experiences, particularly rituals. Durkheim acknowledges that it is possible for moral and cognitive categories to change or be created anew through what he calls collective effervescence, or periods of great collective exaltation. Collective effervescences are the decisive formative moments in social development.<br />Cult of the Individual<br />Key elements: distinguished moral individualism from egoism<br />Individualism is another important theme with Durkheim’s focus on social facts. According to him, we have two connected being within us; one is based on the isolated individuality of our body, and the other is our social being. As society develops, our sense of our own individuality develops. In modern society, characterized by the division of labor, that people even come to understand themselves as distinct individuals. Durkheim argued that individuality has both positive and negative consequences. Egoism, or the selfish pursuit of individual interests, is at odds with moral individualism, the ability to sacrifice self-interest for the rights of all other individual human beings. <br />Individualism was becoming the moral system of modern society and individual has become sacred. A solution Durkheim thought is to lay in reinforcing the strength of collective morality.<br />Moral Education and Social Reform<br />Key elements:<br />• Socialization and Moral Education<br />– Given these, the ‘internalization’ of social morals through education and socialization is paramount<br />• Provided discipline to restrain passions, a sense of autonomy to enable action, and a sense of obligation or devotion to society<br />– Fundamental basis of social order<br />Durkheim believed that society is the source of morality; therefore, he also believed that society could be reformed, especially through moral education.<br />According to Durkheim, morality has three components:<br />• Discipline, a sense of authority that resists idiosyncratic or egoistic impulses <br />• Attachment, to society since society is the source of our morality<br />• Autonomy, a sense of individual responsibility for our actions<br /> For Durkheim, modern morality should be based on the relation between individuals and the only way for this sociological understanding to become a true morality is through education.<br />Education should help children develop a moral attitude toward society with these three moral tools needed to function in society. Adults can also acquire these moral tools by joining occupational associations. According to Durkheim, these associations would include members of a particular occupation regardless of class position and could provide a level of integration and regulation, both of which tend to be weakened by the division of labor.<br />Durkheim did not believe that there was a basic conflict of interest among the owners, managers, and workers within an industry (cf. Marx). For him such conflict occurred only in structure with a lack of integrative morality.<br />Criticisms<br />Durkheim is often criticized for being a functionalist and a positivist. However, his historical comparative methodology puts him at odds with functionalists and positivists who believe that invariant social laws exist that can explain social phenomenon across all societies. <br />It is not clear at all that social facts can be approached only in the objective manner that Durkheim recommends; Social facts should always be approached subjectively as interpretation.<br />In his view on the individual, Durkheim may have been less than honest with his readers and perhaps even with himself regarding his denied to have made crucial assumptions about human nature (driven by their passion for gratification that can never be satisfied).<br />Durkheim's understanding of the relationship between morality and sociology has been critiqued as being conservative.<br />Own point of view<br />Sociologist must only focus on concrete specific phenomenon<br />His theories are based on the differentiation that he strives to make between people and their own action or interaction.<br />Durkheim is the first sociologist to have developed a scientific method<br />We are indebted to Durkheim's first conscious and successful effort to combine social theory and empirical research.<br />he remains of his time, close to Comte's view by his moralism, his way to reify and even deify society<br />

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