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Law and Social Theory Durkheim - The Uni Tutor
This leads to the title of the chapter – society as – that is, society as a thing in itself, something of its own kind, or a thing apart. This is the view of Durkheim that society has an existence of its own, apart from the individuals in it, and is thus a proper object of study. This is the study of sociology. Adams and Sydie note the more specific reference of Durkheim to this is social facts or the "facts of social existence, (p. 91) – the facts that cannot be reduced to individual acts, for example, social obligations, social currents such as broad social moods of pessimism or optimism.
Some of the following quotes from show the nature of Durkheim's argument: In the quotes, note that the act is criminal because the act offends the collective conscience. For Durkheim, the collective consciousness reaches all parts of society, has a distinct reality and is independent of individual conditions, and is passed on from one generation to the next. In this, it differs from particular or individual consciences. (, pp. 79-80).
Law and Social Theory Essay Durkheim
Durkheim considers the beliefs, practices, and consciousness of the collective to be coercive on individuals as actors. In this sense, Durkheim has a structuralist approach, considering the social structures to exert a strong influence on social action. Of course, it is individuals who act, but they do not act on a purely individual basis. Rather, they have obligations and duties, and generally act in ways that are strongly influenced by the structures of which they are part. Sociology can be distinguished from psychology in this way – noting that psychologists study individuals and their mental processes, whereas sociologists are concerned with the structures that influence action.
Durkheim was especially concerned with the question of social order, how does modern society hold together given the individualism and autonomy of each person. Adams and Sydie note that he focused on problems of "reconciling freedom and morality, or individualism and social cohesion in modern society" (p. 90). His book was an exploration and explanation of these issues, and he finds the answer in the concept of social solidarity, common consciousness, and systems of law. Because such forces are not always effective at producing solidarity and because of social changes, there can be disruptions in the solidarity and consciousness. Durkheim connects these to what he calls the forced division of labour (eg. slavery) and to periods of confusion, what he calls . In , the latter is also connected to his analysis of suicide, an exploration of different suicide rates at different places and times in Europe, and an attempt to explain why they differ.
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Durkheim also discusses conditions of the worker under capitalism in terms that come very close to Marx's description of alienation and exploitation. He discusses the degrading nature of the division of labour on the worker, the possibility of monotonous routine, and the machine like actions of the worker. (, p. 371). However, Durkheim does not consider these to be the normal form, but one which results when the worker does not have a sufficient vision of the whole process of production.
Finally, Durkheim's analysis can be considered to be evolutionary and fairly optimistic. For the most part, Durkheim looks on the developments in the division of labour as signalling higher stages of civilization. He does not consider there to be any grand plan to this, and no single factor which guides it. Rather, there is competition, which results in the development of the division of labour, and the outcome of this process cannot be predicted. However, the result is generally positive, because people need each other, and this produces an organic solidarity in society.
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FREE Durkheim And Crime Essay - Example Essays
Durkheim thus sets out an analysis of the division of labour which emphasizes the special functions of each of type of occupation and endeavour. The biological model, with a well functioning body, where each organ properly serves it function seems to be uppermost in Durkheim's mind. Unlike some of the structural functionalists, Durkheim's method distinguishes the cause of the function from the actual function filled. That is, Durkheim observes the function that the occupation fills in society, but attempts to investigate the development of the cause in an historical manner, examining how this function emerged. In this, one can consider there to be a certain " as a mechanism, within a quasi-Darwinian framework, which accelerates the progression of the division of labour." (Giddens, p. 79).
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As a result of this greater contact, the "struggle for existence becomes more acute" and this results in the development of the division of labour. If needs are the same, then there is always a struggle for existence. But where different interests can be pursued, then there may be room for all. Quote 8:For Durkheim the result of the division of labour is positive in that there is no need to compete in the sense of struggling just to survive. Rather, the division of labour may signify that there are sufficient material resources for all in society, and this division allows a certain form of co-operation. Quote 9:The division of labour cannot be anticipated, in terms of the form of its development. It is the sharing of functions, but not according to a preconceived plan. "The division of labour, then, must come about of itself and progressively." (Division, p. 276). It must come to pass in a pre-existing society (Appendix quote 9).Durkheim thus sets out an analysis of the division of labour which emphasizes the special functions of each of type of occupation and endeavour. The biological model, with a well functioning body, where each organ properly serves it function seems to be uppermost in Durkheim's mind. Unlike some of the structural functionalists, Durkheim's method distinguishes the cause of the function from the actual function filled. That is, Durkheim observes the function that the occupation fills in society, but attempts to investigate the development of the cause in an historical manner, examining how this function emerged. In this, one can consider there to be a certain " as a mechanism, within a quasi-Darwinian framework, which accelerates the progression of the division of labour." (Giddens, p. 79). Durkheim is also providing a criticism of the economic models which argue that people with different specialties come together to trade the products of their specialties. For Durkheim, specialties are not natural in any sense, but are developed. Similarly, the division of labour is not natural either, but develops in different forms in different societies. While there may be a great similarity among these (perhaps like Weber's rationality), national differences emerge. In that sense, Durkheim has an historical model, fairly solidly grounded on the material realities. On the other hand, Durkheim's analysis may be considered to be mainly descriptive, proposing some fairly straightforward observations concerning culture. His notion of solidarity, mores, morals and norms come very close to the conventional sociological model of these, and may be considered to be widely accepted by all. The question is how these emerge, and whose interests they serve. Here the conflict approach differs dramatically from Durkheim.Finally, Durkheim's analysis can be considered to be evolutionary and fairly optimistic. For the most part, Durkheim looks on the developments in the division of labour as signalling higher stages of civilization. He does not consider there to be any grand plan to this, and no single factor which guides it. Rather, there is competition, which results in the development of the division of labour, and the outcome of this process cannot be predicted. However, the result is generally positive, because people need each other, and this produces an organic solidarity in society.3. Abnormal Forms of the Division of LabourAt the end of , however, Durkheim does note that there can be problems in society. There are two abnormal forms of the division of labour, and the division of labour itself does not always function as well as it could in modern society.a. Anomic Division of Labor. When there are industrial and commercial crises, there may be a partial break in organic solidarity. Also, where there is conflict between capital and labour, this may be an unusual situation. Part of this is caused by the increased separation of employee and employer under capitalism (, p. 354), so that the conditions for a lack of solidarity are expanded as capitalism and the division of labour develop.
Marx, Durkheim, Weber and Sociology Essay - 1681 …
As the division of labour develops, people do not have the same consciousness, so that the form of law must change. "The very existence of restitutive law, in fact, presupposes the prevalence of a differentiated division of labour, since it covers the rights of individuals either over private property, or over other individuals who are in a different social position from themselves." (Giddens, p. 76) Along with this could come Weber's rational law, perhaps much the same as Durkheim's restitutive law. Systematic codes governing exchange and contracts are necessary, but these are the result of the general acceptance of individual rights within the system of a division of labour.
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