Durkheim: Mechanical and Organic Solidarity
Emile Durkheim (l933/1893) was concerned with the question "How do societies manage to hold together!" He asserted that preindustrial societies are held together by strong traditions and by the members' shared moral beliefs and values. As societies industrialized and developed more specialized economic activities, social solidarity came to be rooted in the members' shared dependence on one another. From Durkheim's perspective, social solidarity derives from a society's social structure, which, in turn, is based on the society's division of labor. Division of labor refers to how the various tasks of a society are divided up and performed. People in diverse societies (or in the fame society at different points in time) divide their tasks somewhat differently, based on their own history, physical environment, and level of technological development. To explain social change, Durkheim categorized societies as having either mechanical or organic solidarity. Mechanical solidarity refers to the social cohesion of preindustrial societies, in which there is minimal division of labor and people feel united by shared values and common social bonds
Durkheim used the term mechanical solidnrity because he believed that people in such pre industrial societies feel a more or less automatic sense of belonging. Social interaction is characterized by face-to-face, intimate, primary-group relationships. Everyone is engaged in similar work, and little specialization is found in the division of labor, Organic solidarity refers to the social cohesion found in industrial (and perhaps postindustrial) societies, in which people perform very specialized tasks and feel united by their mutual dependence. Durkheim chose the term organic solidarity because he believed that individuals in industrial societies come to rely on one another in much the same way that the organs of the human body function interdependently.
Social interaction is less personal, more status oriented, and more focused on specific goals and objectives. People no longer rely on morality or shared values for social solidarity; instead, '\hey are bound together by practical considerations. Which of Durkhelms categories
most closely describes the United States today?