Emile Durkheim

A short Study Guide for exam #2

  • Both Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim both speak about division of labor. ( Ideas are opposing)
  • Karl Marx’s idea of  division of labor:
  1. In division of labor we see two opposing forces. Throughout history there has been class struggle.
  2. Marx sees the tension between the oppressed and oppressor. (Not a good thing)
  3. Not stating that capitalism is bad but rather there needs to be a revolution.
  • Durkheim’s idea of division of labor:
  1. Division of labor creates individuality, specialization and hierarchy
  2. Equilibrium necessary for society. (sees this as a good thing)
  • For Durkheim civilization is a byproduct of increased organic solidarity.
  • Solidarity:  cohesion, unity
  • Two solidarity: Organic (depends on societal parts, division of labor)& Mechanic (collective conscious, born into society with certain roles.)
  • Durkheim- society not oppressive, natural occurrence needed to balance society
  • capitalism is an organic solidarity of structure that works for society as a whole.



Emile Durkheim, Uncategorized

Durkheim Reading Response

Initially going through this reading on my own I interpreted the Durkheim reading to be about two different types of unity in our society. However to me I understood it as mechanical solidarity being that of something an individual has no choice over having. An example would be people feeling connected through work, education, or lifestyles. The organic type I understood it to be the interdependence that rises from specializing work. Now after the discussion we had in class I more or less saw things more clearly on parts where I might have been a bit off. We see how mechanical solidarity becomes a more organized mentality where the function of group unity is ideally most important. So I see it as more of a routine behavior. While organic solidarity is based on the differences that each person has, therefore all becoming something collective as an end product.

Shifting away from Marx’s ideas, Durkheim was more focused on how things occur in our lives through natural means. It is amazing to see just how influential the division of labor is in society. It is a moving force for the two types of solidarity defined. The example used in class with the shifting of mechanical and organic solidarity was very enlightening. Seeing as how both sides are merely inversed, it helps to view it in a light of individuality not having any positive or negative aspects to it. Instead it is merely only a natural process which occurs.

Trying to decipher the idea of objectivity and how problematic it can be has me a bit stumped. Durkheim talked about how civilization can become an object of desire, in other words, becoming an ideal. The problem when something becomes ideal is that it turns into to something almost always unattainable because nothing is perfect. Another issue I can possibly see occurring is that when too much emphasis is put on a symbolic object the idea of what that thing really is loses value. Not sure if I deviated away from the main point but hopefully it’ll be clearer after seeing everyone else’s idea on the matter.