Mechanical and organic solidarity

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In sociology, "mechanical solidarity" and "organic solidarity" refer to the concepts of solidarity as developed by Émile Durkheim. They are used in the context of differentiating between mechanical and organic societies.

According to Durkheim, the types of social solidarity correlate with types of society. Durkheim introduced the terms "mechanical" and "organic solidarity" as part of his theory of the development of societies in The Division of Labour in Society (1893). In a society exhibiting mechanical solidarity, its cohesion and integration comes from the homogeneity of individuals—people feel connected through similar work, educational and religious training, and lifestyle. Mechanical solidarity normally operates in "traditional" and small scale societies.[1] In simpler societies (e.g., tribal), solidarity is usually based on kinship ties of familial networks. Organic solidarity comes from the interdependence that arises from specialization of work and the complementarities between people—a development which occurs in "modern" and "industrial" societies.[1] Definition: it is social cohesion based upon the dependence individuals have on each other in more advanced societies. Although individuals perform different tasks and often have different values and interests, the order and very solidarity of society depends on their reliance on each other to perform their specified tasks. Organic here is referring to the interdependence of the component parts. Thus, social solidarity is maintained in more complex societies through the interdependence of its component parts (e.g., farmers produce the food to feed the factory workers who produce the tractors that allow the farmer to produce the food).

The two types of solidarity can be distinguished by morphological and demographic features, type of norms in existence, and the intensity and content of the conscience collective.[1]

Mechanical vs. organic solidarity[2]
Feature Mechanical solidarity Organic solidarity
Morphological (structural) basis Based on resemblances (predominant in less advanced societies)
Segmental type (first clan-based, later territorial)
Little interdependence (social bonds relatively weak)
Relatively low volume of population
Relatively low material and moral density
Based on division of labor (predominately in more advanced societies)
Organized type (fusion of markets and growth of cities)
Much interdependency (social bonds relatively strong)
Relatively high volume of population
Relatively high material and moral density
Types of norms (typified by law) Rules with repressive sanctions
Prevalence of penal law
Rules with restitutive sanctions
Prevalence of cooperative law (civil, commercial, procedural, administrative and constitutional law)
Formal features of conscience collective High volume
High intensity
High determinateness
Collective authority absolute
Low volume
Low intensity
Low determinateness
More room for individual initiative and reflection
Content of conscience collective Highly religious
Transcendental (superior to human interests and beyond discussion)
Attaching supreme value to society and interests of society as a whole
Concrete and specific
Increasingly secular
Human-orientated (concerned with human interests and open to discussion)
Attaching supreme value to individual dignity, equality of opportunity, work ethic and social justice
Abstract and general

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Collins Dictionary of Sociology, p405-6.
  2. ^ Collins Dictionary of Sociology, p406 adapted from S. Lukes, Emile Durkheim: His life and Work (1973) London:Allen Lane