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DurkheimDialecticDivisionalDiscourse

Critique of Emile Durkheim Forced Divisional of Labour


AstorKittyChan
WordCount:1783
Abstract
Durkheimlivedinatimewithrapidsocialandindustrialchange,livingthroughthe
early years of modernisation. When it would appear industry was over flowing with
riches, to bring in a new utopic era for all, and a shift from traditional paradigms to
modern and enlightened thoughts. This paper aims to identify Durkheims arguments
presentedto outlinetheeffectstosolidaritycaused byTheForcedDivisionof Labour.
Analysing parts of the paper, from solidarity to social mobility, and equilibriums to
emancipations. Following from Durkheims arguments, there is a need to organise
workersspontaneousaction,andtoensuretheyaretreatedequitably.
Introduction
BornthesonofaRabbi,withafamilyhistoryofRabbisinhisfamily,hewasthe
first person in his family to break this tradition. He was in a sense, one of many
pioneering socialist to break free from their Forced Division of Labour, and seek
emancipationtoseekwhatevertastesorvocationtheyliked.
Immediately Durkheim challenges the social norms status quo by stating the
socialparodyofhowthesocialstructuresusedtomaintainsocialnorms,arethesame
rulescausingtheanomieforthesocialactors?
Thetoneandlanguageisveryalarmist,moralisticandvalueriddentosetthetone
of the paper. In the first paragraph, he sets an explosive prelude, invoking a sense of
fear anomic actors and dissonance in the paper for the reader. Durkheim draws a
lawless world begotten from a visceral reaction from social anomie. Using words such
as rules to exist, cause of evil, classes or castes, division of labour, source of
DurkheimDialecticDivisionalDiscourse
dissention,disposethosewhoexercisethem,andcivilwartocomposehisdialectic
diatribe.Givingawarningtosocietyofwhatistofollowifanomieisallowedtooccur,
withoutsocialnormsandregulation.
Palumbo and Scott (2005, p59) state Durkheim presents social theory as the
moraleducator.Writingwithamoralisticstyleladenwithvaluestatements,invokinga
moral righteousness in the reader, however why are rich and poor people polarised
into a just and unjust contract dichotomy? Have poor people always only ever given
unjustcontracts,cantheybegivenajustcontract,similarlyargumentwouldapplyfor
richpeople.Itisonlyjustforasetpointintime,andasDurkheimstates,astheygrow
ortheirneedschange,sowouldthevaluestatementposition.
In the first half of the paper, Durkheim identifies causality effects of solidarity,
howtraditionalMechanicalSolidarityeffectspeople.Withthelatterhalfdiscussingthe
necessity for equality to ensuring the just reward for ones labour, arguing unjust
contractscreatetherichandpoordichotomy.
Durkheimconsideredsocialandnaturalsciencerealmsdifferent,butnolessreal.
Stating sociology has rules that govern our lives as facts, similarly to rules governing
facts of nature. Believing human society comprises of more than just social facts,
requiring institutions for a smooth operation of society, otherwise known as
functionalism. This argument would suggest that for a functional society, all parts of
society has to work positively and are interdependent. Seeing sociology as providing
irrefutable evidence and universally valid knowledge of the social world, he sought
investigationandmethodologyappropriateforthetask,writteninhisearlyworkRules
ofSociologicalMethod(Durkheim,1895).ForcedDivisionofLabourassertsandbuilds
an argument to continue his desire to validate sociology as a respected academic
discipline by drawing analogies from the natural science. Providing an analogy of how
eachorganwithinanorganismonlyclaimsthefoodconsistentwithitspredetermined
DurkheimDialecticDivisionalDiscourse
andunchangeablerole,afunctionofMechanicalSolidarity,settingthescopeandusing
societyasafoil.Durkheimarguesthegapbetweentendenciesofanindividualandthe
social role they have, the flexibility giving the organism and almost infinite number of
possibleemploymentchances,withtastelimitingtheirchoices.
Division of Labour was defined by Harrington (Durkheim, 1984, p319) to mean
specialisation of economic and functionally interdependent trades, as well as
specialisation and coordination of tasks with each trade. Adam Smith suggested that
divisionsoflabourwereanunintendedconsequencesofmultipleindividualactions
drivenbyselfseeking naturaldrives(Smith,1776). Marxviewwasasameansofclass
exploitationwhileDurkheimbelievedDivisionsofLabourwasaformofsolidarity.
WhatDurkheimcallsForceddivisionoflabourismorespecificallycomparableto
Marxs conception of alienated labour (Harrington, 47, 55). Marx makes the assertion
thatalienationfromlabourisnotvoluntary,butforced.DurkheimfeltForcedDivision
of Labour was more related to how people are born into roles that limits their
vocationalopportunitiesandliberty.Workingclassdontlikewhattheyhavetodo,and
areforcedtodospecificrolesforvariousreasons.
Becauseoftheirforceddivisionsoflabour,workersdonthavethesocialmobility
to pursue their taste. As their work becomes regimented and separated from others,
transforming the worker to a lifeless cog and cause a social disconnect suggested by
Durkheim (1895). Anomic suicide and too little regulation, Durkheim suggested this
occurs when individuals feel isolated and cut off from the social group. These words
resonate with relevance in todays neopostmodern industrialisation, with abnormal
formsorsocialanomieinChina(Johnson2011).
Durkheim suggests most normal people exist happily in their roles, in this
equilibrium(Durkheim,1984,p318),withtheirneedsbeingproportionaltotheirmeans
(i.b.i.d., p312), living in a status quo plane of existence. Following from Durkheims
DurkheimDialecticDivisionalDiscourse
suggestion of the equilibrium, a dissonance occurs as their attribute increase and
grows,sowilltheirexpectationsforremuneration.AcontemporaryexampleisChinas
growingMiddleClass,ormorerecently,makersofAppleproductsFoxconn,increased
thepayratesandconditionsfortheirworkerstopreventaanomicactions(MailOnline,
2011).
At the time Durkheim wrote The Division of Labour, he drew a distinction
between traditional and modern society, common for evolutionist. Durkheim stressed
evolution away from traditional Mechanical Solidarity which represented simpler
static societies, towards complex and sophisticated Organic Solidarity. Mechanical
Solidarity expressing the rigid control of social norms. With increasing specialisation
and diversity, Mechanical Solidarity must evolve weakening the collective
consciousness.Astechnologyandsocietyevolved,sodidtherequirementsforOrganic
Solidarity,todealandcopewiththesechanges.
Durkheim saw the Forced Division of Labour and class conflicts as a catalyst for
anomie.Withorganismstrappedwithinavocation,eveniftheysoughtgrowthandto
riseabovetheclassandvocation,fromthesocialstructuresthatbindsthemdown.
When works are unable to bear their suffrage, and are bound an able to even
fight,Durkheimwarmsofspontaneousaction,youhaveemancipation.Durkheimtalks
about the organisms anomic action, caused when the bond that holds someone to a
group is weakened and they feel isolated, a pathogen of organics solidarity. In
DurkheimspaperaboutSuicide,heexaminesreasonsforwhathelabelsthefourbasic
reasons for suicide. To mitigate group flash points that can erupt to a violent and
dangerous anomic event, social controls are need to act as floodgates. But as dissent
withinthelabourforcegrows,thestrengthofthefloodgatesweakens.
Durkheim discusses the normalisation of how aspirations are thwarted and
inequity becomes tolerated, caused from frustrations founded from professions with
DurkheimDialecticDivisionalDiscourse
littledevelopment.Thisisverycommonwithlower socioeconomicandsociopolitical
groups with little power caused from the forced divisions of labour. They cannot fight
the power, nor can they become the power to make appropriate social and civil
change.
Durkheim makes a bold statement questioning how if contracts are forced, this
would cause the contractual solidarity to be in question. Taking a moralistic stance,
stating contracts should be freely agreed and there should be no constraints and
challenges the validity of such social contracts if they are obtained when the person
with the social collateral profits unfairly from such a situation. He is almost preaching
the immorality of usury costs (Durkheim, 1984, p319) of something when it bears no
relationship to efforts to produce it. A practice that Marx would argue is typical of a
greedy capitalist, profiting from their means of production. Durkheim does
acknowledge (i.b.i.d. p320) that contracts of usury are commonly refused in civilised
society.
Durkheim did not consider divisions of labour as class exploitations as Marx did,
but saw class divisions and conflict as side effects of social change, an illness begat
from modern society (Palumbo & Scott, 2005, p59). As injustices become more
intolerable, labour becomes weaker and so will the social solidarity, a danger and
weakness of Organic Solidarity as individuals are isolated, creating a loss to the
collectiveconsciousness.
He states how economists have separated man from society, requiring social
action to regulate the liberties of everyone (Durkheim, 1984, p320), and ensuring
equity for all. Regulating liberties creates an oxymoron that reinforces the forced
divisionoflaboursandlimitinggrowandopportunitiesforpeople.
The hereditary transmission of wealth will always create a forced Division of
Labour, with caste, class and other social structures reinforcing this prejudice,
DurkheimDialecticDivisionalDiscourse
distributing goods unequally. Although progressive steps help reduce this effect,
society still works towards reducing the disparity and breaking generational poverty
andForcedDivisionsofLabour.AlthoughDurkheimsuggestsequalitybetweencitizens
isbecominggreater,thiswouldbemorelikeseeingsocietythroughtherosecoloured
glassesofindustrialmodernisation.Inthecontemporaryeraofthe21stCentury,these
socialwoesstillexist(Johnson2011).
Discussion
In conclusion to the paper, one sees how Durkheim even though he rejects his
ForcedDivisionofLabour,stilltasksamoralisticstyletohiswriting.Durkheimsawthe
moralneedsforsocialintegration,andwantedthescienceofsociologytoprovidesolid
foundation of knowledge to underpin social integration. This would mitigate social
anomie,tobringinaneraofutopicharmoniousstatehealth.
Writeabouttheimportanceofstateinterventionasmeanstoavoidanomiethat
could be caused by the Forced Division of Labour, form government vocations to
provide more opportunities for lower classes, or having contractual agreements that
ensure equitability and no usury practices. Durkheim building on the Utilitarian idea
by Jeremy Bentham stated one of the governments role was to ensure the greatest
happinessofthegreatestnumberandLiberalismbeliefthatthiswouldbearesultof
development of parliamentary democracy and constitutional law (txtbk p25).
Durkheims ideas of The Forced Division of Labour reinforce Utilitarian and Liberalism
secularideas.
When Durkheim argument is analysed, it can be seen that he warms of the
dangersofForcedDivisionsofLabour.Progressshouldbetowardssocialorder,rather
than towards the emancipation of the individual human being. (Bilton et. al., 2002, p,
470).
DurkheimDialecticDivisionalDiscourse
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