Émile based on individualization. The main focus for

Émile Durkheim is considered as the founder of sociology, his
biggest contribution is his theory about the division of labour and suicide. For
Durkheim, he interprets modern European society not as capitalist but rather
advanced industrial societies, leading in the development of social evolution
and industrial in their dominant institutions. (Steven, 1984)

Moreover, Durkheim views individualism as the main component
for modern society, since he believes that the existence of a social cohesion
and the bonding between men are what drags the evolution of modern societies. Hence,
he proposed two types of solidarity at explain the forms of society, which one
is formed based on social bonds and the other is formed based on
individualization. The main focus for these two solidarity is that how does
changes in society and new circumstances affects and impacts the social bonds. Despite
the two types of solidarity, Durkheim also looks at some consequences for the
functioning of society, such as the concept of anomie and types of suicide.

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Anomie is a big concept for the down fall for solidarity, it is clear that
Durkheim supports the idea of individualism, however if there are too much in
the society it will caused a reverse effect. Furthermore, the reasons for
suicide is not practically psychological but rather social, as Durkehim argues
that the act of suicide is related to deviant and anomie. Hence, the essay will
address the two types of solidarity, the concept of anomie and the cause of
suicide in the context of Durkheim.



According to the Oxford dictionary of sociology, the division
of labour is a concept where it denotes any stable organization, co-ordinating
individuals or groups carrying out different, but integrated activities.

Durkheim concerns the moral consequences most in the division of labour,
looking at the result of underlying solidarity of society which constrains
individual’s authority, inhumanity and ego. Hence the term of mechanical
solidarity, which represents traditional society where certain beliefs and
values are placed within a clan or tribe, such as religion or God. The belief
can be symbolized to something like a totem or bible, which everyone in the
society praised it or look upon it. The social bonds in mechanical solidarity
is based on the “sameness”, where although different tribes and clans may have
its own culture and traditions, all tribes have the same beliefs and values
despite their culture and traditions. Thus, traditional society has low levels
of social differentiation and high levels of social bonds. Durkheim labels the
first ecological arrangement society as a mechanical solidarity, where

‘it results automatically from the similarity
existent between its parts, and from the fact that all the individuals making
these up adhere strongly to the same patterns of belief, the same demanding
regulations of conduct.’ (Gianfranco, 2000: 48)

The way of arrangement by implanting individuals with the
same beliefs and value, it might cause problems since not all individuals
follows the same rules, some might be deviant. Durkheim acknowledge such
issues, where in order for mechanical solidarity to succeed punishment is
required. Along with using repressive laws to punishment those individuals that
are not obeying orders or are doubts the existence of the common beliefs. For
Durkheim, crime exist in every society and punishment is the way to restore the
collective conscious. Since in undeveloped societies like clans and tribes,
most individuals do the same jobs where they are self-sufficient, but it is society
that held them together with a common belief and values. (Sam, 2015) Hence with
the likeliness of individuals in such a society it fosters what Durkheim called
collective consciousness, which ‘is the basis of solidarity’. (Sam, 2015: 36)
Therefore, by punishing individuals using repressive law is the necessity of
what the basis of solidarity is. Moving on from repressive laws, mechanical
solidarity also represents penal law, which is a law that Durkheim stated
negatively, since it ‘prescribers sanction’ but there is nothing to say with
the burden they correspond. (Alexander, 2015: 50) Moreover, since penal laws
are universal and generally agreed within the society, its progress are rather
slow comparing to civil law which evolves and changes quickly based on the
rights and obligations that are less well known which implanted in the moral
roots of the society. (Alexander, 2015) Therefore forms the beginning of transformation
from mechanical solidarity to organic solidarity, which then creates a civilized
and modern society in current days.



Organic solidarity marks the beginning of modern societies
where the two biggest changes from mechanical solidarity is the rise of individualism
and differentiation in society. Some attributes of organic solidarity are the
change from social bonds and to the social cohesion based on interdependence.

What separates between modern society instead of traditional society is the crucial
change in social cohesion, where it is the underlying knowledge that each
individual makes a contribution to the society despite the diverse occupations
and jobs in society. Where unlike mechanical solidarity, the various occupation
supports each other, hence the descend of praising a totem or sharing the same
belief and values. Where the purview of religion declines radically, meaning
the collective consciousness is much less focused and united than in the past
but it won’t distinct generally. (Alexande, 2015) But rather, working in a
cycle of chains that link every individual and occupation together to form the
modern society. Furthermore, Durkheim argues that the moral culture beliefs and
values of mechanical society are replaced with a more ‘abstract collective
conscience constituted’ with the reverence for ‘individual, liberty, democracy
and justice,’ (Steven, 1984: 51) Meaning that the idea of the collectiveness of
the society is not surrounded by a solid object such as a totem, but with a
shared mutual concept or idea that connects the individuals together in a
society. Where organic solidarity is assembled around the ‘web of
interdependent links formed in the advanced division of labour’ and the occupational
groups shapes the foundation of the various social backgrounds and the diverse
moral values in society. (Steven, 1984: 51)


Looking back at how the repressive law has dominated the
mechanical solidarity, the restitutive law is what bonds the organic solidarity
together. As Durkheim will saw, punishment exist in any form of society, hence
restitutive law is for those individuals who has disrupt the normality in the
society. However, different from the repressive law, the restitutive law
doesn’t necessarily punish the perpetrator, but rather to recover the connection
of relationship from the normal form based on the crime that take place. Aiming
to resolve the disrupt and negotiate with the individual, which technically
gives the individual a second chance. Despite of this problem, the rapid
industrialization the came with the division of labour also lead to social
problems. This is due to the way that organic solidarity was built on the
complementary differences between individuals, shifting the focus from
community to individual, substituting the collective consciousness of a
society, which the shared beliefs and values that maintains the cohesiveness in
society. Hence, referring back the social bond between individuals is linked in
an abstract collective conscience rather than a literal object. ‘Without the
framework of norms of behaviour’, people will become disoriented and the
society will become unstable. (Sam, 2015: 37) A important fact to point out is
that elements of mechanical solidarity are remained in order for organic
solidarity to work, where members of society have a sense of common purpose. (Sam,


Organic solidarity based modern societies are symbolized by
the decrease social control because of the increased individualism and social
differentiation, which results in the increased frequency of anomie appearing
in society. Anomie is an idea that Durkheim introduces in his book Suicide,
where it is a state where people no longer ‘feel interpreted into society are
unsure of its norms and rules.’ (Sam, 2015:253) In other words, the individual
is in a state where he feels lost or unsure about his roles in society, hence
not being able to follow the norm and becomes deviant to the society. The idea
of anomie can also be applied to many places, such as:

the idea of anomie as applied to economic
behaviour is that relations between men, or groups of men engaged in commercial
and industrial enterprises, are devoid of regulation by shared moral beliefs or
by formal legal rules. Although he commonly refers to men engaged in economic
activities as ‘producers’ it is evident that he plainly accepts, in some sense,
the existence of classes and the regularity of class conflict. (Steven,

This means that although Durkheim doesn’t use implements the
idea of class in his division of labour, there are still elements of class that
has embedded in his theory. Moreover, anomie became part of the ‘language of
industrial sociology’ but in a way which bypass the ‘characterization of
economic behaviour as such as anomic.’ (Steven, 1984:65) Where both anomie and
anomic are consequences for the functioning of society, due to fact that it
relates to the economic activity of the society. Additionally, the spread of
anomie has increased due to the development of organic solidarity which
decrease the growth of the division of labour. Hence, it is a major drawback of
the division of labour due to individuals not behaving as they should be in
society, which effects the system of organic solidarity. Where each person’s
role has a specific purpose, that by grouping the different occupations it
correlates and supports each other, forming this social cohesion and bond
between individuals that holds different beliefs and values. Although anomie is
such a negative outcome for the transformation from mechanical to organic
solidarity, it coexists with modern society, similar to deviance. According to
Durkheim, deviance is universal normal and functional, where he argues:

that when people no longer feel interpreted
into society and are unsure of its norms and rules – for example, during times
of rapid social change – they are more likely to turn to deviant acts or
suicide. This condition is known as anomie, a Greek word meaning “without law”.

(Sam, 2015:253)

The implication in sociology towards social bonds is that
strong social ties supports individuals and groups to withstand the times of
rapid social changes. Thus, anomie can be viewed as the failure of social ties
that holds people together to make a functional society. Where it is in these
periods of anomie, that the social strength of the norms and values which
maintain the balance in society are weaken, so that signs of riots, insecure
and chaotic emerges in society. Furthermore, the idea of anomie is used for
distinct suicide rates, affirming that the personal act of suicide is a social
phenomenon. (Sam, 2015)


Based of the above address of suicide, it is
clear that suicide is one of the consequences in the functioning of society. Although
suicide may seem to be a psychological problem, Durkheim

‘fails to conceptualize mental disorder
itself as a form of violation of collective norms, generated and patterned to a
significant extent by identifiable social circumstances. Instead, in keeping
with the views prevailing in his own time, he is content to consider it chiefly
as an occurrence grounded in the individual’s organic constitution, objectively
verifiable without reference to social processes of definition and handling.’
(Gianfranco, 2000:62)

This shows that although Durkheim is able to establish
connections between social causes and suicide, although these views are restricted
or seen as deviant in the society. In his book Suicide published in
1897, he reasoned social integration as a particular factor towards how likely
a person is going to suicide. Through depending on how individuals participated
in social groups or society, the more individuals feel they are part of the
community and makes sense with the social context and norms; it is less likely
that the person will commit suicide. In addition, he stated four types of
suicide in modern society, they are: Anomic suicide, Egoistic suicide, Altruistic
suicide and Fatalistic suicide. First with anomie suicide, from its name it
suggests that the suicide occurs when an individual experiences anomie. As
mentioned above, anomie is the state where the individual’s connection with the
social group is weak and that there are rapid changes in society. Hence, under
such circumstances, with such disconnection and feeling mentally disorientated
the individual chooses to commit suicide. Second is Egoistic suicide, which is
when people are disconnected with society and not having have weak social
bonds. Different from anomie suicide, egoistic suicide is based on the
weakening of ties with family and community, which anomie argues that the
individual is lost and feel misfit with the society meaning these is no such
bond between the individual and the society. Therefore, it is the elderlies
that are most likely to commit egoistic suicide based on the weakening and loss
of ties with their family and friends, where they don’t have a purpose or role
in the society anymore. Thirdly, Altruistic suicide, this is a type of suicide
that is completely different from the two previous suicide, where since the
individual suicide due to his sacrifice it will benefit the society. Meaning
that the individual has strong social cohesion and bond, hence under this is
more likely to occur in mechanical solidarity due since people commits suicide
for a matter such as a political or religious purposes. Finally, fatalistic
suicide which occurs when an individual is living in under harsh circumstance
or an extreme regulated environment. Thus, prisoners or slaves are more likely
to commit this type of suicide due to the horrible condition they are currently
living in.


In conclusion, Durkheim have pointed out two types of
solidarity based on the growing division of labour in modern society. They are
mechanical solidarity and organic solidarity, where mechanical solidarity marks
the interaction of individuals in traditional society such as the clan and
tribes. Where they shared a set of social belief and value that bonds the
different clans and tribes together despite their differences. However, organic
solidarity focuses on the development of individualism and the occupation of
each individual and arguing that every person has a role and together forms a
social cohesion which develops to a modern society. However, there are also
consequences for the development of these solidarity such anomie, which is a
concept where due to the rapid changes and transformation in society, individuals
feel lost and not being able to connect with the social norms and values in
society. Moreover, some act of suicide is also based on social factors, in the
forms of anomic suicide, egoistic suicide, altruistic suicide and fatalistic
suicide. Where these four types of suicide do exist throughout the times of mechanical
and organic solidarity. Further, Durkheim’s growing division of labour focuses on
the concepts of social conscience, social cohesion and social bonds, which ties
society and individuals together; but differ from Marx Durkheim didn’t value the
importance of class, values of commodity and the five historical epochs.

Therefore, tries to incorporate the concept of anomie into modern society and find
ways to explain suicide using social factors rather than psychological reasons.