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SOC4044 Sociological

Theory:

Emile Durkheim
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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.

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Emile Durkheim

1857-1917

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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)

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Emile Durkheim

Paradigm
Order
Class of Theories
Functionalism

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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)

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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

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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)

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Emile Durkheim

Three Elements of Functionalism


The general interrelatedness, or
interdependence of the systems 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

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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)

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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.
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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)

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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,share conflict
theorists stress the divisions within a society
and the struggles that arise out of peoples
pursuits of their different material interests.
(Wallace and Wolf 1999:19)

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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.
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)

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Emile Durkheim

Durkheims examples of social facts


Laws
Morals
Beliefs
Customs
Fashions

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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)
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Emile Durkheim

Durkheim made it clear that he viewed


macrosociology (large-scale or
society-wide) phenomena as
sociologys proper subject matter.

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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.

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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. . .

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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 collective sentiments,
sentiments or
what modern functionalists call shared
values (in this case, the objection to
criminal activity).
(Wallace and Wolf 1999:21-22)

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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).

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Emile Durkheim

(Wallace and Wolf 1999:22)

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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.

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Emile Durkheim
Suicide: A Study In Sociology
Durkheims 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)

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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)

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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)

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Emile Durkheim

For throughout Durkheims 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)

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Emile Durkheim

Durkheims 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)

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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,
integration because
the concern is with how units of a social
system are coordinated.

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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?

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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
Durkheims analysis of social
solidarity contains a more general
theory of social organization.
organization
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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)
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Emile Durkheim:
Collective Conscience
People are born into the collective
conscience, and it regulates their
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.
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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.
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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

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Emile Durkheim:
Collective Conscience
Intensity
Indicates the extent to which the collective
conscience has power to guide a persons
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

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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)

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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

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Emile Durkheim: Mechanical
and Organic Solidarity

Legal codes, which in Durkheims 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.

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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.

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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.

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Emile Durkheim: Mechanical
and Organic Solidarity

Review Handout

Descriptive Summary of
Mechanical and Organic
Societies

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Emile Durkheim:
Social Change
Social Change
Durkheims 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).

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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.
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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)

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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.
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Emile Durkheim:
Social Change
Review Handout

Durkheims Causal Model of the


Division of Labor

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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,
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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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?

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Emile Durkheim

Real World
Applications

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