Durkheim and the State

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  • Topic: Sociology, Émile Durkheim, Social cohesion
  • Pages : 4 (1280 words )
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  • Published : July 24, 2008
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In order to understand why ‘Durkheim’s general optimism about the prospects for the modern division of labour is qualified by a number of fears and apprehensions’, one must understand the foundations of the development of the Division of Labour.

Firstly one must be aware of what the Division of Labour refers to, and that is ‘the practice of dividing labour so that specific people preform specific tasks.’ (Morrison, 1997: 143). Durkheim made a distinction between economic and sociological division of labour. Economic labour for instance is the process whereby labour is divided into ‘separate and special operations’ with the main aim of increasing the rate of production. However when Durkheim talks of sociological division of labour he is referring to the way in which ‘social cohesion’ is developed in society. This is due to the way individuals relate to one another when their occupations are ‘separate and specialised’. (Morrison, 1997: 144).

However how did the division of labour develop? Durkheim proposed at least six stages under which the division of labour expanded. Durkheim states; firstly the strain for existence in a rapidly growing population causes the division of labour to grow. (Durkheim as cited in Macintosh, 1997: 195/196). As the population continues to grow people find themselves living closer and closer to one another. In time people realise that they must live cooperatively in order to live in a harmonious society. “This social cooperation takes the form of the division of labour.” (Morrison, 1997: 144). The division of labour produces a number of ‘social relations, which arise from the form of independence’ (Morrison, 1997: 144). These ‘social relations’ are expressed in the form of rights, contracts and rules. Thus a new system of links is formed, these links come from the material links, and ‘these links make up the new system of social cohesion, based on the functional division of labour’. (Morrison, 1997: 144). Thus as one can see...
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