?Émile Durkheim, born in 1858, is considered, alongside Karl Marx and Max Weber, to be one of the "key figures whose influence on the development of sociology is unparalleled" (Thompson, 1988: 27). Throughout his life, Durkheim wrote four major, and influential works, one of which was The Division of Labour in Society, published in 1893. In this book, Durkheim creates a theory of societal transition from traditional societies to modern societies, where solidarity changes from technical to organic. He proposed that this change occurred through the growing division of labour (Durkheim, 1964).
This essay will look at Durkheim’s explanation of how organic solidarity emerged as a result of the growing division of labor in society. I will first look briefly at Durkheim’s background and see how this prompted his interest in the discipline. The next few paragraphs will focus on the division of labour, and will explain what it is, and how it creates solidarity among people. I will then look at the characteristics of traditional societies and mechanical solidarity, and then onto the characteristics of modern societies and organic solidarity, which is the type of solidarity that the title refers to. Towards the end of the essay, I will explore the problems associated with Durkheim’s theory, and how there may not be a true organic type of solidarity.
Durkheim was born in 1858 into a Jewish, rabbinical family in Epinal, Lorraine. After the Franco-Prussian War in 1871, Lorraine was overtaken by Germany and the Prussians occupied Durkheim’s hometown, which resulted in Durkheim’s family leaving Lorraine and inhabiting France. Durkheim’s later work came as a result of witnessing first-hand the rapid social change throughout France and Europe during the nineteenth Durkheim was also hugely influenced by the work of other theorists before him such as Herbert Spencer and his work on social evolution and the organic analogy, which w...
Today, Durkheim's work is also useful to sociologists who rely on his concept of anomie to study the way violence often crops up -- whether to the self or others -- in the midst of societal change . This concept refers to how societal change, or the perception of it, can cause one to feel disconnected from society given changes in norms, values, and expectations, and how this can cause both psychic and material chaos. In a related vein, Durkheim's legacy also helps explain why disrupting everyday norms and routines with protest is an important way of raising awareness of issues and of building movements around them .
A fundamental influence on Durkheim's thought was the sociological positivism of Auguste Comte , who effectively sought to extend and apply the scientific method found in the natural sciences to the social sciences .  According to Comte, a true social science should stress for empirical facts, as well as induce general scientific laws from the relationship among these facts. There were many points on which Durkheim agreed with the positivist thesis. First, he accepted that the study of society was to be founded on an examination of facts. Second, like Comte, he acknowledged that the only valid guide to objective knowledge was the scientific method. Third, he agreed with Comte that the social sciences could become scientific only when they were stripped of their metaphysical abstractions and philosophical speculation.  At the same time, Durkheim believed that Comte was still too philosophical in his outlook.