Durkheim’s writings have a great relevance in the modern civil societies and other historical contexts. His writings reflect the reality in the society in terms of culture, social structural development, social psychological transformations as well as the economical development. Indeed, Durkheim is normally thought as a realist when it comes to the analysis of the society. As a first academic sociologist, Durkheim established sociology as a social science. His publications on various subjects such as religion, crime, education among others reflect the reality within the society. This makes him one of the founding fathers of sociology.
In his time, issues related with religion and ethnic backgrounds could not be assumed. As a result, he was mainly concerned with how societies could maintain integrity and coherence. This made him to develop a scientific approach that showed how the society which is made of different parts could be kept balanced and healthy. This is contained in his school of functionalism. He explains how societies could exist and equally contribute as different pars in respect to what they produce.
His analysis of the functionalism is affirmed as a reality because he focuses on social facts rather than what motivates the actions of an individual as a member of the society. This is because social facts determines the nature of the society and could explain the independence between various sections of the society. He argues that functionalism forms the paradigm of any society. This is because it explains the social institutions as they collectively work to together to meet the needs of each member. They ensure that there is social stability that helps to maintain the sociological tradition. In addition, his functionalism view focuses on the role played by the social actors that entails what they do. He believes that harmony defines a society rather than conflict. As a result, there are various factors that contribute to producing a healthy society.
On religion, Durkheim believes that religion is a society worshiping itself. He reiterated that religion was a major factor that held the society together. He focused his study on how religion would be in absence of beliefs that forms its tenets. He argued that the belief system that makes the religion forms the fundamental separation between what is considered sacred and profane. He views other religions as an outgrowth of this separation where they have added their own myths, images among other sacred activities. Originally, religion was an activity of a social group and clan. However, in modern society, other concepts related with religion have been added something that makes them distinct. Religion forms the emblem of the society and thus it is inevitable. He equates religion with society and argues that just as formation of a society is inevitable when individual live as a group, religion is also inevitable. This clearly reflects the reality in both traditional and modern society.
Durkheim believed that Division of labor is the motive force in history and social development. He explains that social order could be maintained through division of labor. He maintains that division of labor differed in traditional and modern society. In modern society, he argued that division of labor is highly complex. This is due to increased specializations in employments and other social roles. This has created dependences where people are tied to one another. This is because no individual in the modern society can meet all his needs. Thus, every one depends on each other. For example, workers in the modern societies earn money hence they have to rely on farmers in order to acquire certain products such as fruits, clothing, and groceries among others to meet their needs. On the other hand, subsistence communities are self sufficient. This is because they can consume what the produce and also the fact that the societies are bound by a common heritage and job making the level of independence low.
Another major area that Durkheim explored and that reflects social realities is the solidarity. He associates solidarity within a given society with the law system. He established that societies with mechanical solidarity normally have repressive law. This means that those who are involved in a crime or engage in any deviant behavior are punished. In this case, the punishment undertaken by an individual is seen as a way of preserving the unity of consciousness in the society. It also compensates the collective conscience that the offender neglected. Moreover, mechanical societies are based on shared beliefs and sentiments. Societies that practice this form of solidarity are normally small and are organized in terms of kinships. This follows that social relations are regulated by certain system of beliefs that are shared by each member of the society. Durkheim also refers to this as common conscience. This system also results into a punitive society where any deviation was termed as a threat to the shared values and identity.
On the contrary, the society with an organic solidarity has a restitutive law. This means that the law does not aim at punishing the offenders. Its main aim involves retaining normality in the society. On the same, organic society is larger than mechanical implying that division of labor is greater. Therefore, a complex system through which organization of labor can be developed is necessary in order to meet the needs of every member of the society. However, due to increased change in the society especially in the division of labor, cases of individuals breaking law have increased. This is because the change has brought about some form of confusion in regard to the norms in a certain society as well as the ability of individual to impersonate. This has resulted into reduced observation of norms that includes breakdown of social norms that regulates the behavior. Durkheim refers to this condition as anomie that forms the basis in which all deviant behaviors emanate such as suicide. Indeed, Durkheim argues that solidarity that is based on certain system of norms is not possible. The complexities in the society due to its size does not result into integration rather, it leads to solidarity that is based on interdependence. This is because some people are not in a position to produce the things they need. As a result, people must interact and play an integrative role as they have realized that they need each other. According to Durkheim, organic solidarity is mainly based around economic and political organizations in various societies. This is because of the fact that the legal system in such organizations are involved in regulation of their behaviors that is based on restitution rather that punishing individuals.
In conclusion, the above analysis support that view that Durkheim is a social realist. This is because he covers areas that influence our society as explained in topics such as functionalism, solidarity and division of labor. These topics cover the traditional and modern society. As a result, they reflect the realities at the ground and how societies are changing resulting into increased division of labor. As a matter of fact, Durkheim addresses the core issues that form the fabric of the society.
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