The Changing World of Work and Society

Topics: Sociology, Émile Durkheim, Social cohesion Pages: 2 (604 words) Published: May 29, 2013
Sociology is the study of human beings and their behaviour within society. Specifically, it is the study of human relationships in society and how these affect human behaviour, both for the individual and society as a whole. Sociology focuses on the relationship between individuals and society but also the relationships individuals have with one another, how they interact and how this relates to society as a whole. Most sociologists would agree that work is a key human activity and is central to many people’s lives. Therefore, the changing world of work and organisations is an important area of study for sociology. There are many different sociological theories which attempt to describe how an individual’s relationship to society is affected by work. This essay will describe and evaluate some of these theories. Functionalist sociologists see work as an essential activity to ensure the stability of society. They claim that society places pressure on the individual to adhere to the social norms of the society thus maintaining the social structure. Durkheim described how a collective conscience is created by the collective will and value consensus of people living in a society. It is a set of shared beliefs and moral attitudes. The collective conscience acts as a unifier in society as each individual’s personal belief will be largely similar to the collective beliefs in that society. Durkheim’s theory, The Division of Labour in Society, describes the process of change from a traditional society to a modern one whilst maintaining social order. Central to his theory are the concepts of mechanical solidarity and organic solidarity. In traditional societies the majority will generally carry out a similar type of work, mostly agricultural labour. As a result their lives will be very similar which will create a sense of understanding and social cohesion. Durkheim called this process mechanical solidarity. Organic solidarity occurs, according to Durkheim, in...
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