Explore The Aspects Of Modernity That Were Of Greatest Concern To Durkheim Sociology Undergraduate Essay

1233 words - 5 pages

Jenny Watson 1701221
What aspect of Modernity most worried Durkheim?
Modernity is a term used to describe what happened after traditional and federal societies ended,
when people began to put trust in their progress. Modernity is also a theory and can be described
as an expiation of social phenomena which has yet been proven to be false. Durkheim was largely
influenced by both Auguste Comte and Herbert Spencer. He learnt from Comte that there needed
to be a new discipline for studying human relationships and we need social sciences in order to
study the way in which we are all shaped by society. He was influenced by Spencer through his
analogy that society was like an organism although felt Spencer was wrong to think society with
complex division of labour would hold together just because of everyones self interest. Worries
arose from this as Durkheim believed society was held together by a common conscience as
opposed to individual connections.
As a Utilitarian, Spencer believed society would function as an organism through individuals acting
in self interest. To him, it’s a collection of individuals making connections between themselves, with
nothing else holding society together. Durkheim disagreed with this and instead felt society was
held together by a common conscience being the idea that people in a society all share a set of
ideas. He felt it had to be a different kind of solidarity to that in more traditional societies but
nevertheless there had to be some social glue to hold society together. Durkheim observed that the
character and content of collective conscience “varied according to whether society was
characterised by mechanical or organic solidarity” (McLuhan, 1994). He compared two types of
society: Segmented and Advanced and then two types of solidarity within these societies:
Mechanical and Organic. Durkheim frequently used Australian Aboriginal society as an example for
Mechanical which is the solidarity within a segmented society, as societies with it are seen as
being more traditional and therefore don't have modernity. The strong common social bonds in it
prevent people from having individual autonomy. It is essentially maintained by similarities and
social norms. Whereas, organic solidarity within an advanced society which he would use French
Society as an example of, can be described as the weakening of social bonds but the common
social bond is a division of labour where people rely on each other for institutional necessities such
as education and medication. The Concern of Durkheim here may be that as you've got two
different societies and within these as people are becoming more specialised in the advanced
societies, they're loosing the common conscience and therefore the fact they share the same
ideas. It can therefore be implied that Durkheim’s worry is that common conscience is slowly
disappearing which could potentially lead to the breakdown of society.
Durkheim discussed further concerns he had with advan...

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