Q3:This course revolves around the transition from traditional to modern societies. One aspect of this transition is, according to Durkheim, the emergence of industrial society, another aspect is secularization. Select parts of the course literature to examine these processes and how they relate to each other.
STU:11310 (including cover page and bibliography page)
Assistant professor Maja Lotz (ML), associate professor Benedikte Brinker (BB) and Ph.D. candidate Lasse Folke Henriksen (LFH)
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Table of contents
How the emergence of industrial society led to modern societies………..….…..…2
How secularization led to modern societies………………………………………...4
How did course literatures relate to each other......................................................... 4
In sociology, traditional society refers to a society characterized by an orientation to the past, not the future, with a predominant role for custom and habit. Traditional society focuses more towards the improvement of society as a whole rather than focusing on self and personal gain, people from traditional society are more likely opposed to produce for profit rather then subsistence. On the contrary, modern societies focus more on the term “profit”. Here in this essay, I am going to talk about how the two main factors “emergence of industrial society” and “secularization” influenced the process of the societies’ modernization, and how the texts from the course related to each other.
How the emergence of industrial society led to modern societies During the emergence of industrial society, there were theories such as Mechanic/Organic solidarity, Anomie, Conscience collective, Social division of labor, Functionalism that descripted the appearance and process of modern societies. By looking at the definition of modern society, industrial society and traditional society, we can understand how the societies changed more perfectly. Modern society: A society is generally considered modern when it is industrialized. Industrial society: In sociology, industrial society refers to a society driven by the use of technology to enable mass production, supporting a large population with a high capacity for division of labor. Traditional society: In sociology, traditional society refers to a
society characterized by an orientation to the past, not the future, with a predominant role for custom and habit.
Such a society will be marked by a lack of distinction between family and business, with the division of labor influenced primarily by age, gender, and status. -‐
Mechanic/ Organic solidarity
In the nineteenth century, societies were often vary stable and harmonious. “because these societies were so simple” “many thought they were not as exposed to conflict and confusion as the modern, or ‘complex’ society.”
And that was the time that
Durkheim brought up the term mechanical solidary, the term was used at where there is little differentiation between people, like a primitive society, a strong sense of conscience collective is shared among people. However, with the emergence of industrial society and the division of labor, there are no longer so closely bound to groups marked by a large degree of internal equality and homogeneity. “Differences of many kinds emerge between individuals, just as differences also emerge between professions and trades”, with so many differences between people’s life, there are conflicts that cannot be avoided in modern societies, hence solidarity would be weakened. Here, Durkheim thought a new form of solidarity might emerge in the modern world: organic solidarity. In this way, the feature of traditional societies has been changed by industrial society and the modern world appeared. -‐
In industrial society, social transformations happen very fast, which would lead to disequilibrium. And at the same time social norms lose their grips on individuals, who are left to their own devices, consequently, individuals loose their ‘moral compasses’, which, in the end, contributed to anomie. Anomie is a condition in which society provides little moral guidance to individuals it is the breakdown of social bonds between an individual and the community. That kind of phenomenon evidently exists in modern society. In the name of progress, modern society has promised a better world, yet in modern society anomie has not become the exception but instead the norm. so we can speculate that anomie，which was caused by industrial society, catalyzed modern society.
Social division of labor
The division of labor, develop correspondingly as the segmental structure disappears. Durkheim argued we know that the segmental arrangement is an insurmountable obstacle to the division of labor, and must at least partially have become dissolved for the division of labor to emerge. And he also suggested: growth of the division of labor is thus brought by the social segments losing their individuality, as the boundaries between them become less marked. In short, a merging takes place that makes it possible for social life to enter into new combinations. So that social relations become more numerous, since they extend on all sides, beyond their original limits, the division of labor develops, therefore, as there are more individuals sufficiently in contact to be able to act and react upon one-another. Durkheim had sufficient theory on the causes of the development of the division of labor, basically he thought it was a outcome of segmental arrangement. As we can deduce from Durkheim’s theory above, that in the traditional societies, segmental systems were not so common, people tend to work together for a same goal. With the development of industrial society, and the need of different kind of labor for different specialized job, segmental system emerged, in this way labor had to be segmented to different field, then the segmental system was more pronounced thus the relations of the member from the society become enclosed within the limits of the segment to which we belong. Then the relationship between labor and society like this became how it works in a modern society.
Durkheim brought up the thought that society functions in the same way as organism. That the institutions of society have functions equivalent to the organs of a living organism. However, the important part is that normal biological organisms do not have a kind of awareness or, in another way, called conscience collective, that was the kind of awareness that stick members from a society together for the same goal. But with the emergence of industrial society and division of labor, the conscience became less strong, but from the definition of industrial society we can see that this kind of society works mainly by those machines and technologies as well as clear division of labor, in this sense, the society still works as an well functionalized organism. So that we can see that the traditional societies were changed into modern society by
applying mass production.
How secularization led to modern societies
Secularization refers to the legal process whereby a “religious” person left the cloister to return to the “world” and its temptations, becoming thereby a “secular” person. Durkheim and Weber share the view that the old historical religions cannot survive the onslaught of the modern world, and Durkheim believed modern societies would create for themselves, because “the old gods are growing old or already dead”. This means during the process of secularization, people tend to find out the flaws of their religion and will create something new of the religion to make it adapt to nowadays world. In this way, people promote emancipation，they do not tend to admire the “old god” faithfully, but became more open-minded, which made things in the industrial society such as machines and technologies easier to enter people’s daily life.
Above are some positive influences secularization had for modern societies, those influences contributed to the good aspect of modern society. On the one hand, during the process of secularization, major religions chose to redefine their doctrines, which, thereby adapted the religion to how the society was developing, on the other hand, those who were religious called on people to build up good personality and advertise valid moral code, for example Muslims are not supposed to treat their parents irrespectively. So that advantages of secularization made modern society a better place.
Also, Secularism has significant influence on societies such as it made art and science flourish, allow people to discover new stuffs, and tend to advance civil rights.
How the course literatures relate to each other
In Durkheim’s theory Functionalism, he referred to the function of religion, he argue the most important function of religion is its contribution to social integration, and if religious traditions have such positive social effects, they will also be preserved as a result of these effects. This means he thought that religion motivated social integration which then contributed to modern society.
When Durkheim talked about mechanical solidarity it also related to one of his other thoughts which is called conscience collective, he suggested in mechanical solidarity, the society was relatively primitive so the conscience collective is basically religious.
When talking about secularization, we learn that people would become more open minded, and would accept new things such as new technology, this means at that time, industrial society will be further developed and at the same time, anomie will arise.
We have learnt a lot on the transition from traditional to modern societies. The two main aspects “emergence of industrial society”, “secularization” and how did them contribute to modern societies have been talked about in this essay. And we can see that the society transited from traditional to modern kind was basically a consequence of both the emergence of industrial society and secularization.