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Durkheim's Impact on Development of Sociology

By collencc Apr 13, 2011 1296 Words
The aim of this paper is to critically analyze Durham’s theory in influencing the sociology of work. The paper shall uncover and explain Durkheim’s system theory and then analyze its relevance to sociology of work. Various examples of work places shall be included to add more clarity and to consolidate its arguments. The conclusion shall then sum up all the points that would have been discussed so as to come up with a standpoint.

According to O’Donnell (1999) the sociology of work or industrial sociology, examines the direction and implications of trends in technological change, globalization, labor markets, work organization, management practices as well as employment relations. Emile Durkheim with his functionalism and systems theory has made relevant contribution to the discipline. From a functionalist point of view, industrialization is part of social evolution Durkheim’s systems theory gives an analogy of the human body. He argues that an organization like the human body comprises of various parts which are functional. These parts work hand in hand for the betterment of an organization hence the absence of one part affects the others. This was of great relevance and influence to contemporary work places. For example the Women’s University as a work place is comprised of the administration department, academic department, financial department as well as others. Hence, Women’s University is a system that operates as Durkheim illustrated in his systems theory. Thus, Durkheim’s systems theory is still influencing the sociology of work.

According to Worsely (1981) Durkheim’s systems theory characterizes organizational changes as the movement from mechanical solidarity where there is little difference between people and the roles they play to organic solidarity where roles become more specialized and differentiated. The change from mechanical solidarity to organic solidarity can be likened to the change from the Feudal n Craft to the mercantile error. Currently, work places are now operating at the organic solidarity where there is specialization of duties and the application of technology (machinery and computers). Hence, Dirkheim’s systems theory is of great influence to the sociology work.

Durkheim views the change from mechanical solidarity to organinic solidarity as evolutional not revolutional he argues that social or organizational change occurs when it is functionally necessary for it to do so. Change may occur through adaptation or integration. Adaptation occurs when existing institutions readjust to meet new needs and integration occurs when a society adopts a new element and makes it part of its self. This can be exemplified by policies that re being adopted in various organizations. These include the code of conduct, allowancies as well as incentives. However, unlike Durkhheim, Marx according to Schaffer (2004) does not agree that change is evolutional. He rather opts for the fact that change is revolutional in organizations. He argues that organizational changes of contemporary work places come through revolutionary or forceful actives. Hence, strikes, go slows as well as stay always are now common in today’s work places. Thus, from such a stand point, some of Durkeim’s explanations in his systems theory are no longer very influential in today’s work places. Weber concurs that originations change as multifactoral that is it results from new inventions, war, the rise and fall of power groups, influential ones. Weber considered that organizations are not normally either in balance or conflict; he argues that state societies and their institutions vary from case to case.

According to Neubrek and Glass berg (2005) Durkiem emphasized the specialsation of work tusks He was fascinated by the process of an increasing division of labor; of splitting and fragmentation of work tusk into many smaller ones the creation of new tusks and roles in the interests of greater productivity. Like Durkiem Weber also emphasized the specialization of work with his assertion of bureaucracy. The argument here is each person or group within the organization must have a job specification and adhere to it, for example, the finance has its own roles same with the human resources, sales and marketing groups. However, Durkeim was aware that this increasing specialization brought problems, some individuals became no longer anything but in an innate piece of machinery, only an external force set going which always move in the same way. Thus Durkheim according to Ferrante (2003) believed that specialization would result into division of labor. Hence according to the systems theory, division of labor would lead to capitalism or exploitation of men by men in workplaces. This is the case in most workplaces, a situation where the employees are not being paid in accordance to their labor input.

According to Worsely (1981) Marx Weber agrees with Dream that division of labor results in alienation. Since bureaucracy is a form of organizational structure characterized by a variety of roles, some which which have more authority and status than others, Weber considered that working particularly at the lower levels of bureaucracy such as in a factory or office is alienating. This is because of doing the same thing over and over again for example filling invoices and little control over their work situation which is boring. In support of this Braver man in Zetilin (1994) also adds alienation is the product of social relations between capitalists management and workers, he is in the tradition of Marx himself. Braver man adds that the main organizational strategy adopted by management to control and exploit labor specialization. Bavarian’s particular target is Taylor’s theory of scientific management. Taylor argued that if management is divided the labor process is up into small functions both increased efficiency and greater control over the labor force would result. Organizations this way would lessen chances of workers understanding the whole process of production and enable their appointment of less intelligent workers. Although this is quite notable in various work places. Taylor and Bravreman are criticized by Friedman (1979) who emphasizes the importance of resistance by workers. They argue that in the twentieth century managements have had to come into terms with resistance especially in times of full employment as a result they had to adopt more laboural methods than Taylor reason what Friedman terms responsible autonomy strategies. This is exemplified in contemporary workplaces by strikes, go slows as well as stay always.

Durkheim’s systems theory talks of anomy as a stage which is reached as result of capitalism and alienation. Anomie is explained by Durkheim as a condition in which organizations provide little moral guidance which is a state of normlesness. The employees loose their values of work as well as morals as a result of frustration. This is notable in various workplaces. There is no motivation, people steal the company resources people are rather having the mentality of benefiting themselves rather than the workplace. Thus, Durkheim’s systems theory is very influential in the sociology of work.

In conclusion Durkheim systems theory has had a sound impact in the sociology of work the theory tries to explain why organization operates the way it operates. The systems theory encompasses mechanical and organic solidarity, anomie, specialization as well as the structure (organogram). Thus although the systems theory has been criticized, it provides a base for sociology of work in which the most authority towards work places are produced. Hence from such a stand point thus Durkheim’s system theory is of positive influence to sociology of work as a discipline.

REFERENCES
Macionis John. J (1997), Sociology, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River New Jersey

Schaffer, R (2004). Sociology, A Brief Introduction, McGaw Hill, New York

Ferrante, J. (2003) Sociology, A Global Perspective, Wadsworth, USA

Burges, T, and Kirby, M. (2004) Sociology, Cambrige University Press, UK

O’DonneL, (1999), A New Introduction To Sociology, Bath College, UK

Worsely,P, (1981), Understanding Society, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.

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