Emile Durkheim - Division of Labor

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  • Topic: Sociology, Émile Durkheim, The Division of Labour in Society
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  • Published : March 25, 2013
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DIVISION OF LABOR IN SOCIETY
The Division of Labor in Society by Emile Durkheim explains how in the modern societies the division of labor affects individuals and society contradicting Marx’s belief that the division of labor will all result to alienation. Durkheim argued that the division of labor is not necessarily “bad” for it “increases both the productive capacity and skill of the workman; it is the necessary condition for the intellectual and material development of societies; it is the source of civilization.” More importantly, it creates a feeling of solidarity among the people. For Durkheim, the result of Division of Labor is positive for there is no need for competition in the sense of struggling just to survive but the division of labor may signify that there are sufficient material resources for all in the society, and in this division allows a certain form of cooperation and because people need each other this produces a solidarity in the society. *As we noted previously, Marx saw both alienation and class conflict as inevitable (or “normal”) in capitalist societies. By contrast, rather than seeing social conflict as a “normal” condition of capitalism, Durkheim maintained that anomie results only in “abnormal” conditions of overspecialization, when the rules of capitalism become too rigid and individuals are “forced” into a particular position in the division of labor. *Causes of Division of Labor: division of labor develops regularly as history proceeds. This fact certainly depends on causes that are likewise constant, causes that we shall investigate." (p.179). *"THe increase in the DOL is therefore due to the fact that the social segments lose their individuality, that the partitions dividing them become more permeable. IN short, there occurs between them a coalescence that renders the social substance free to enter upon new combinations." {p.141} The key to the expansion of the DOL is the increase in social interaction, particularly functional differentiation. * This is what gives moral value to the division of labor. Through it, the individual becomes aware of his dependence upon society; from it come the forces which keep him in check and restrain him. In short, since the division of labor becomes the chief source of social solidarity, it becomes, at the same time, the foundation of the moral order. * Moreover, far from being trammeled by the progress of specialization, individual personality develops with the division of labor. To be a person is to be an autonomous source of action. Man acquires this quality only in so far as there is something in him which is his alone and which individualizes him, as he is something more than a simple incarnation of the generic type of his race and his group. The division of labor itself contributes to this enfranchisement, for individual natures, while specializing, become more complex, and by that are in part freed from collective action and hereditary influences which can only enforce themselves upon simple, general things. The most visible example of social solidarity that Durkheim mentioned was law. Law is the organization of social life in its most stable and precise form. The classification of law depends on the type of solidarity corresponds to it. The first type of law is the repressive law which imposes a fine or injury on the perpetrator. The second one is the restitutory laws which refer to restoring the previous relationship which have been disturbed from before the crime was committed. Repressive law tends to stay diffused througout the society, restitutory law works through more specialized bodies like in courts, magistrates and lawyers. *Despite the removed role of restitutory law from socirty, society still intervenes in restitutory sanctioning. The formation of a contract directly concerns the parties involved: nonetheless, id a contract has a binding force, it is a society which confers that force. If society does not give its blessing...
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