Embed Size (px)
• Durkheim was a French sociologist• He is known as the father of functionalism.• Durkheim’s central sociological focus was on how
societies maintain social order and social stability and avoid chaos and social disintegration.
• His organic view of society helped explain how order is maintained and how it is functional for all society’s to create and maintain social stability.
• The organic view of society is borrowed from the natural sciences.
• Spencer was the first scientist to liken the workings of a society to the way a living organism functions.
• From an evolutionary perspective organs and structures are selected according to the need and survival of a particular species.
• The same way that different organs serve a function in a living organism, different institution in society perform a function to maintain order for society as a whole.
• Durkheim argued that that society’s go through a gradual transition from traditional to modern.
• In his time Europe e.g., Germany, France, and England were considered modern as compared to India, china, and Japan.
• In his view all societies both modern and traditional have a “shared value system” or a “core value system.”
• The core value system works like a social magnet that pulls members of society together and creates social solidarity and social cohesion.
• Thus, the core value system has a function: to serve society as a whole by creating and maintaining stability.
• Durkheim asserts that although all societies have a core value system the content of the value system is different from one society to another.
• But the fact that all societies do have a shared value system demonstrates that its existence has a purpose and it is necessary.
• In other words core value systems all have the same function which is to maintain a society’s social stability and order.
• Durkheim’s explanation of the shared value system and other institutions in society in terms of their function for society as a whole comes to be know as functionalism.
• Functionalism is a sociological perspective that tries to explain the existence of institutions, social structures, social arrangements, and social phenomenon in terms of their function/purpose/necessity/usefulness for the society as a whole.
• Based on this conception of social systems Durkheim examines traditional and modern societies in order to show how each has core value system that is designed to serve that particular society.
• In other words although the existence of core value systems is universal its particular content is specific to the culture that it serves.
• Durkheim argues that the core value system of traditional societies is centered around values that emphasize similarities rather than differences. Values of solidarity, cooperation, and collectivity serves to bring people closer together.
• Traditional societies value kinship and family networks and place the good and the need of the community above that of the individual.
• In doing so, traditional societies strengthen people’s ties to community members keeping their ties to the core value system.
• Therefore, the core value system functions as a reminder that constantly informs society’s members
of the social rules and norms that binds them together.
• In his book Division of Labor in Society, Durkheim contrast traditional and modern societies in terms the extent to which individuals jobs/roles overlap.
• In traditional societies people tend to relate to each other on the basis of their similarities in part because people perform overlapping roles. For instance, the carpenter could also work as a painter or a gardener.
• In a nutshell, traditional societies has less division of labor and less social differentiation.
• In contrast to traditional societies, modern societies have a core value system that is centered around values that emphasize differences.
• Durkheim observed that rapid social change and increasing division of labor (specialization) creates strains in society.
• These strains lead to breakdown of traditional organizations, social networks, values, social norms, and authority.
• This is in part due to the fact that modern societies tend to adhere to more divisive values such as individualism and competition.
• Both individualism and competition create strain because they emphasize individuality and achievement through competition and self-reliance rather than cooperation.
• Individualism places the interest of the person ahead of that of the collectivity. So that the good of the community is no longer a priority.
• These strains lead to what Durkheim calls anomie– a condition in which social control becomes ineffective as a result of weakening or loss of shared values, sense of collectivity and purpose in society.
• As people pursue their individual goals and interests they begin to loosen their ties to the shared values and social norms that brings the whole community together.
• Modern societies are also defined by having very elaborate division of labor. Industrialization, urbanization, and technological innovations bring about specialization of labor.
• The more division of labor the more specialization of work. In the process work differentiation leads to social divisions where people by virtue of doing diverse types of work lose their sense of connection to others.
• Therefore, according to Durkheim modern societies are more prone to social breakdown, social instability, and imbalance.
• Durkheim concluded that the stronger people’s bonds or adherents to the core values the less likely that they deviate from the social norms of society.
• Conversely, the weaker people’s attachment to the core value system the more likely that they deviate from the norms.
• In order to illustrate his main theoretical point Durkheim studied suicide as a form of behavior that exhibits deviations from the values and social norms of a society. His book was titled Suicide.
• Durkheim stipulated that suicide is a form of behavior that in all cultures (traditional or modern) is considered to be unacceptable and a major deviation from the core value system.
• The universality of his proposition allowed him to conduct the first comparative sociological/scientific study of suicide.
• Durkheim argued that suicide is a social fact. • Social facts are patterned ways of beliefs, actions,
thoughts, feelings, traditions, laws, and values that exist outside of any one individual but shape and control a person’s life experiences. These patterned behaviors can be scientifically observed
• Durkheim believed that social facts such as suicide as a pattern of behavior must be explained in terms of social structure rather than individual attributes.
• Durkheim was interested in group rather than individual behavior. Thus, he studied suicide rates of different groups and populations (not individual causes of suicides) and tried to explain them in social rather psychological and biological terms.
• Durkheim’s key point/argument was that human behavior (suicide being one from of human behavior) is affected by many factors within the social environment as opposed to mental illness or biological factors .
• Durkheim found that different countries and different groups within a country have different rates of suicide which remained stable over time.
• His data showed that protestants, males, educated, unmarried, and urban groups had a significantly higher rate of suicide than their counterpart i.e., Catholics, females, illiterate, married, and rural population.
• Durkheim argued that the high rate of suicide in the groups that he studied had to do with their low level of social integration.
• Durkheim believed that the groups with the high rate of suicide tend to have weaker ties to the shared value system.
• These groups were not as integrated into the shared value system as their counterparts and their likelihood of deviating from the norms was higher.
• Durkheim concludes that groups with strong adherence to the shared value system are less likely to deviate from societal rules and guidelines.
• Therefore, the more socially integrated a groups the less deviation from the norms.
• However, on the whole modern societies (for reasons explained previously) show less social solidarity or social integration and are more prone to deviation from the norm.
• The dilemma of modern societies is how to balance rapid social change and the resultant divisive social conditions to maintain order and stability in society.
• In showing the negative effects of low levels of social integration Durkheim concluded that the shared value system of a society has the function of pulling members of society together by emphasizing what people have in common and how their commonalities creates a sense of community.