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SOC4044 Sociological Theory: Emile Durkheim. Emile Durkheim. References Coser, Lewis A. 1977. Masters of Sociological Thought: Ideas in Historical and Social Context . 2d ed. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers.

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soc4044 sociological theory emile durkheim

SOC4044 Sociological Theory:Emile Durkheim

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

emile durkheim
Emile Durkheim

References

Coser, Lewis A. 1977. Masters of Sociological Thought: Ideas in Historical and Social Context. 2d ed. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers.

Durkheim, Emile. [1893] 1964. The Division of Labor in Society. Glencoe, IL: The Free Press.

Durkheim, Emile. [1895] 1982. The Rules of Sociological Method. New York: The Free Press.

Durkheim, Emile. [1897] 1951. Suicide: A Study in Sociology. Glencoe, IL: The Free Press.

Theodorson, George A. and Achilles S. Theodorson, eds. 1969. A Modern Dictionary of Sociology. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell.

Turner, Jonathan H., Leonard Beeghley, and Charles H. Powers. 1998. The Emergence of Sociological Theory. 4th ed. Cincinnati,OH: Wadsworth Publishing Company.

Wallace, Ruth A. and Alison Wolf. 1999. Contemporary Sociological Theory: Expanding the Classical Tradition. 5th ed.Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

emile durkheim1
Emile Durkheim

1857-1917

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

emile durkheim2
Emile Durkheim
  • Born in France on April 15, 1857
  • Son of a rabbi
  • Studied Hebrew and the Old Testament
  • Was a Catholic for a short period of time
  • Became an agnostic

(Coser 1977:143)

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim
  • Paradigm
    • Order
  • Class of Theories
    • Functionalism

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim

Functionalism

The analysis of social and cultural phenomena in terms of the functions they perform in a sociocultural system. In functionalism, society is conceived of as a system of interrelated parts in which no part can be understood in isolation from the whole. A change in any part is seen as leading to a certain degree of imbalance, which in turn results in changes in other parts of the system and to some extent to a reorganization of the system as a whole. The development of functionalism was based on the model of the organic system found in the biological sciences. (Theodorson and Theodorson 1969:167)

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim
  • Functionalism is macrosociology
  • Think of an airport as an example of the interrelatedness expressed within the functionalism framework.
    • Pilots
    • Maintenance crews
    • Air traffic controllers
    • Baggage handlers
    • Ticketing and reservation personnel

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim
  • What could cause “disequilibrium” of the airport system?
    • Inclement weather
    • Malfunctioning radar control system
    • High volume of passengers during the holidays
    • Strike of one category of employees

(Wallace and Wolf 1999:18)

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

emile durkheim7
Emile Durkheim

Three Elements of Functionalism

  • The general interrelatedness, or interdependence of the system’s parts
  • The existence of a “normal” state of affairs, or state of equilibrium, comparable to the normal or healthy state of an organism
  • The way that all the parts of the system reorganize to bring things back to normal

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim
  • Using the airport example, how will equilibrium be restored?
    • Personnel will work harder
    • Overtime will be set up
    • Additional staff will be hired
    • Additional “flights” will be developed (for inclement weather)

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim

In analyzing how social systems maintain and restore equilibrium, functionalists tend to use shared values or generally accepted standards of desirability as a central concept. Value consensus means that individuals will be morally committed to their society.

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim

The concept of norms is a basic building block in sociological theory. Remember these terms from Social Problems?

  • Positive Sanctions
  • Negative Sanctions
  • Informal Sanctions
  • Formal Sanctions
  • Folkways
  • Laws
  • Mores

(Mooney, Knox, and Schacht 1997:7-8)

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim

The emphasis on values is the second most important feature of functionalism. As such, it contrasts directly with the other major macrosociological perspective, conflict theory. Whereas functionalism emphasizes the unity of society and what its members share, conflict theorists stress the divisions within a society and the struggles that arise out of people’s pursuits of their different material interests.

(Wallace and Wolf 1999:19)

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim

What should sociology study?

Durkheim set out to create a proper subject matter for sociology, the realm of social facts. He defined social facts as that “which is general over the whole of a given society whilst having an existence of its own, independent of its individual manifestations.” (Durkheim [1893] 1964:49)

(Wallace and Wolf 1999:21)

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim
  • Durkheim’s examples of social facts
    • Laws
    • Morals
    • Beliefs
    • Customs
    • Fashions

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim
  • Durkheim later elaborated on the meaning of social facts and used the term institution
    • The “beliefs and modes of behavior instituted by the collectivity.” (Durkheim [1895] 1982:45)
  • Durkheim defined sociology as the “science of institutions, their genesis and their functioning.” (Durkheim [1895] 1982:59)

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim

Durkheim made it clear that he viewed macrosociology (large-scale or society-wide) phenomena as sociology’s proper subject matter.

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim

In The Rules of Sociological Method, where he discusses social facts, Durkheim sees functions as “general needs of the social organism” (Durkheim [1895] 1982:123). He then proceeds to make his case for explanation of social facts by social rather than nonsocial causes. He applied his method in his well-known study, Suicide: A Study in Sociology (Durkheim [1897] 1951), where he focused on suicide rates, a social fact, rather than on individual suicides.

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim

Before the next few slides are presented, remember how “individualistic” we are in the current society of the United States. As societies become more complex, the individual members tend to be more self-centered as opposed to community centered.

Now, the next slide please. . .

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim

Punishment is, Durkheim argues, a social reaction to crime. It serves not simply the obvious functions of retribution for the criminal and general deterrence of crime; it also fulfills the generally unrecognized but critical function of maintaining the intensity of collectivesentiments, or what modern functionalists call shared values (in this case, the objection to criminal activity).

(Wallace and Wolf 1999:21-22)

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim

Punishment, Durkheim argues, “has the useful function of maintaining these sentiments at the same level of intensity, for they could not fail to weaken it if the offenses committed against them remained unpunished” (Durkheim [1895] 1982:124).

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim

(Wallace and Wolf 1999:22)

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim

Contrary to modern Western thought, the purpose of the “punishment” was more important than the “dignity” or “rights” of the individual being punished. This explains why punishments are almost always public events in simpler societies. The focus on the individualistic, self-centered modern complex societies--totally distorts the “value-upholding” “normative” process of swift public punishments.

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim

Suicide: A Study In Sociology

Durkheim’s study does not simply describe the suicide rates in Europe in the nineteenth century. Instead he begins with the basic assumption that too much or too little integration or regulation (cohesion) is unhealthy for a society, and from this he derives specific hypotheses about suicide.

(Wallace and Wolf 1999:23)

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim

Two Types of Integration

  • Attachment
    • Attachment to social groups and their goals. Such attachment involves the maintenance of interpersonal ties and the perception that one is a part of a larger collectively.
  • Regulation
    • Regulation by the collective conscience (values, beliefs, and general norms) of social gatherings. Such regulation limits individual aspirations and needs, keeping them in check.

(Turner, Beeghley, and Powers 1998:264)

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim

Suicide and Social Integration

  • Humans can potentially reveal unlimited desires and passions, which must be regulated and held in check.
  • Yet total regulation of passions and desires creates a situation where life loses all meaning.
  • Humans need interpersonal attachments and a sense that these attachments connect them to collective purposes.
  • Yet excessive attachment can undermine personal autonomy to the point where life loses meaning for the individual.

(Turner, Beeghley, and Powers 1998:266)

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim

For throughout Durkheim’s illustrious career, his theoretical work revolved around one fundamental question: what is the basis for integration and solidarity in human societies?

(Turner, Beeghley, and Powers 1998:251)

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim

Durkheim’s first major work was the published version of his French doctoral thesis, The Division of Labor in Society: A Study of the Organization of Advanced Societies.

(Durkheim [1893] 1947)

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

emile durkheim social solidarity or social integration
Emile Durkheim: Social Solidarity or Social Integration

Social Solidarity

The Division of Labor is about the shifting basis of social solidarity as societies evolve from an undifferentiated and simple profile to a complex and differentiated one. Today this topic would be termed social integration, because the concern is with how units of a social system are coordinated.

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim: Social Solidarity or Social Integration

The question of social solidarity, or integration, turns on several related issues:

  • How are individuals made to feel part of a larger social collective?
  • How are their desires and wants constrained in ways that allow them to participate in the collective?
  • How are the activities of individuals and other social units coordinated and adjusted to one another?

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim: Social Solidarity or Social Integration

As it is evident, these questions take us into the basic problem of how patterns of social organization are created, maintained, and changed. It is little wonder, therefore, that Durkheim’s analysis of social solidarity contains a more general theory of social organization.

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

emile durkheim collective conscience
Emile Durkheim: Collective Conscience

The Collective Conscience

(later called Collective Representations)

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.

(Durkheim [1893] 1947:79-80)

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim: Collective Conscience

People are born into the collective conscience, and it regulatestheir perceptions and behavior. What Durkheim was denoting with the concept of collective conscience, then, is that social systems evidence systems of ideas, such as values, beliefs, and norms, that constrain the thoughts and actions of individuals.

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

emile durkheim collective conscience2
Emile Durkheim: Collective Conscience

Durkheim was concerned with morality and moral facts. This area is now termed culture.

Durkheim was concerned with the systems of symbols--particularly the norms, values, and beliefs--that humans create and use to organize their activities.

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim: Collective Conscience
  • In the course of his analysis of the collective conscience, Durkheim conceptualized its varying states as having four variables
    • Volume
      • Denotes the degree to which the values, beliefs, and rules of the collective conscience are shared by the members of a society

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim: Collective Conscience
  • Intensity
    • Indicates the extent to which the collective conscience has power to guide a person’s thoughts and actions
  • Determinateness
    • Denotes the degree of clarity in the components of the collective conscience
  • Content
    • Pertains to the ratio of religious to purely secular symbolism in the collective conscience

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

emile durkheim social morphology
Emile Durkheim: Social Morphology

Social Morphology

  • Social Morphology (social structure) involves the assessment of the following:
    • Nature
    • Number
    • Arrangement
    • Nature of Interrelations
      • Whether these were individuals or corporate (groups and organizations)

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

emile durkheim mechanical and organic solidarity
Emile Durkheim: Mechanical and Organic Solidarity

Mechanical and Organic Solidarity

  • Mechanical Solidarity
    • Based on a strong collective conscience regulating the thought and actions of individuals located within structural units that are all alike

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

emile durkheim mechanical and organic solidarity1
Emile Durkheim: Mechanical and Organic Solidarity
  • Legal codes, which in Durkheim’s view are the best empirical indicator of solidarity, are repressive, and sanctions are punitive.
    • The reason for such repressiveness is that deviation from the dictates of the collective conscience is viewed as a crime against all members of the society and the gods.

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim: Mechanical and Organic Solidarity
  • Organic Solidarity
    • These societies are typified by large populations, distributed in specialized roles in many diverse structural units. Organic societies reveal high degrees of interdependence among individuals and corporate units, with exchange, legal contracts, and norms regulating these interrelations. The collective conscience becomes “enfeebled” and “more abstract,” providing highly general and secular premises for the exchanges, contracts, and norms regulating the interdependencies among specialized social units.

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim: Mechanical and Organic Solidarity
  • This alteration is reflected in legal codes that become less punitive and more “restitutive,” specifying nonpunitive ways to redress violations of normative arrangements and to reintegrate violators back into the network of interdependencies that typify organic societies. In such societies individual freedom is great, and the secular and highly abstract collective conscience becomes dominated by values stressing respect for the personal dignity of the individual.

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim: Mechanical and Organic Solidarity

Review Handout

Descriptive Summary of Mechanical and Organic Societies

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

emile durkheim social change
Emile Durkheim:Social Change

Social Change

  • Durkheim’s view of social change revolves around an analysis of the causes and consequences of increases in the division of labor:
    • The division of labor varies in direct ratio with the volume and density of societies, and, if it progresses in a continuous manner in the course of social development, it is because societies become regularly denser and generally more voluminous (Durkheim [1893] 1947:262).

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim:Social Change

How does dynamic density cause the division of labor? Dynamic density increases competition among individuals who, if they are to survive the “struggle,” must assume specialized roles and then establish exchange relations with each other. The division of labor is thus the mechanism by which competition is mitigated.

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim:Social Change

Thus, Darwin says that in a small area, open to immigration, and where, consequently, the conflict of individuals must be acute, there is always to be seen a very great diversity in the species inhabiting it.

. . . Men submit to the same law. In the same city, different occupations can co-exist without being obliged mutually to destroy one another, for they pursue different objects.

(Durkheim [1893] 1947:-266-267)

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim:Social Change

Durkheim saw migration, population growth, and ecological concentration as causing increased “material density,” which in turn caused increased moral or dynamic density--that is, escalated social contact and interaction. Such interaction could be further heightened by varied means of communication and transportation.

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim:Social Change

Review Handout

Durkheim’s Causal Model of the Division of Labor

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

emile durkheim anomie definition
Emile Durkheim:Anomie (Definition)

Anomie (Normlessness)

When social regulations break down, the controlling influence of society on individual propensities is no longer effective and individuals are left to their own devices. Such a state of affairs Durkheim calls anomie, a term that refers to a condition of relative normlessness in a whole society or in some of its component groups. Anomie does not refer to a state of mind, but to a property of the social structure. It characterizes a condition in which individuals desires are no longer regulated by common norms and where, as a consequence, individuals are left without moral guidance in the pursuit of their goals.

(Coser 1977:132-133)

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

emile durkheim anomic division of labor
Emile Durkheim:Anomic Division of Labor

Anomic Division of Labor

  • Represents insufficient normative regulation of individuals’ activities, with the result that individuals do not feel attached to the collectivity.

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

emile durkheim anomic division of labor1
Emile Durkheim:Anomic Division of Labor
  • Anomie is inevitable when the transformation of societies from mechanical to an organic basis of social solidarity is rapid and causes the “generalization,” or “enfeeblement,” of values. With generalization, individuals’ attachment to, and regulation by, values is lessened.

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim:Anomic Division of Labor
  • The results of this anomic situation are diverse.
    • One result is that individuals feel alienated, because their only attachment is to the monotony and crushing schedule dictated by the machines of the industrial age
    • Another is the escalated frustrations and the sense of deprivation, manifested by increased incident of revolt, that come in a state of underregulation.

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim:Anomic Division of Labor
  • Unlike Marx, however, Durkheim did not consider these consequences inevitable. He rejected the notion that there were inherent contradictions in capitalism, for if, in certain cases, organic solidarity is not all it should be . . . [it is] because all the conditions for the existence of organic solidarity have not been realized”(Durkheim [1983] 1947:372-373).

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim: Social Solidarity or Social Integration

Again . . . .

The question of social solidarity, or integration, turns on several related issues:

  • How are individuals made to feel part of a larger social collective?
  • How are their desires and wants constrained in ways that allow them to participate in the collective?
  • How are the activities of individuals and other social units coordinated and adjusted to one another?

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender

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Emile Durkheim

Real World Applications

© 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender