Durkheim and the Relevance of His Theories in Modern Society

1240 Words Apr 18th, 2013 5 Pages
“Treat social facts as things” is an expression that epitomises the works of Emile Durkheim. This essay focuses on four main sociological concepts proposed by the functionalist Emile Durkheim; the division of labour; mechanical and organic solidarity; anomie and suicide, and examines their relevance in contemporary society.
Along with Marx and Weber, Durkheim is considered one of the founding members of modern sociology. He is also credited with making sociology a science through his application of scientific and empirical research. Durkheim believed that sociology should be seen as a science separate from other sciences such as psychology, by studying “social facts” objectively as things. (Kiviston, 2011)
Through his four major
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(McDonald, 2009)
Organic solidarity arose as a result of the industrial revolution when society became more multifaceted and new ways of working emerged. This saw a decline in the collective conscience regarding shared morals and beliefs as society began to progress and expand. The division of labour that arises as a result of organic solidarity is complex and varied, resulting in people becoming more individualistic and yet also interdependent. Society’s social bonds now centred around the fact that people were dependant on each other for the good and services required in their day-to-day lives. (McDonald, 2009)
As organic solidarity is typical of complex, industrialised societies, Durkheim’s theory is very applicable to modern life and the first world in particular. Individuality is a major feature of people living in the western world today e.g. the USA, UK, and Ireland. This is evident in our political and social thinking. Much emphasis is placed on personal rights and the belief that nothing is more important than us. (Hughes et al, 1995) Meanwhile we are not self-sufficient; we rely heavily on the expertise of thousands globally to live our daily lives e.g. the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the cars we drive etc. (Macionis and Plummer, 2005)
A huge increase in individualism came about because of organic solidarity resulting in a breakdown of moral and ethical boundaries
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