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Emile Durkheim's View of Society

Emile Durkheim followed Auguste Comte in viewing society as a reality in its own right and in identifying patterns to the experiences of individuals which exist independently (Hess, Markson, & Stein, 1989). Durkheim theorized that segmentary societies are held together by mechanical solidarity in which repressive laws are created, tolerated, and essentially derived from necessity (Durkheim, 1964). The totality of beliefs and sentiments common to average citizens of the same society forms a determinant system which has its own life and can be, according to Durkheim (1964), a collective or common conscience. It is this common conscious, maintained by punishment and by strictures against proscribed behaviors in both the public and the private sectors, which creates mechanical solidarity. Mechanical solidarity is achieved via repressive law which integrates society to a degree which is dependent upon the greater or lesser extent of the social life which the common conscience embraces or regulates (Durkheim, 1964). The process can be transformed into modern as opposed to segmentary societies that are held together by organic solidarity.

In essence, Durkheim (1964) departs from Marx by arguing that organic solidarity in modern society is due in large measure to the division of labor. He states that "while repressive law tends to remain diffuse within society, restitutive law creates organs which are more and more specialized" (Durkheim, 1964, p. 113). Organic solidarity m


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Emile Durkheim's View of Society. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 10:22, March 28, 2015, from