Organic solidarity is a term used by David Emile Durkheim to refer to a state of
interdependency created by the specialization of roles in which individuals and
institutions become acutely dependent on others in a complex division of labour.
In developing his mechanical solidarity and organic solidarity
distinction, Durkheim drew on the organicist thinking that influenced many intellectuals
of his generation, where human societies are analyzed with analogies to biological
The basis of organic solidarity is
abstract and may be weakened by anomie when people fail to
comprehend the ties that bind them to others. Modern societies, Durkheim argued, are held
together by organic solidarity.
In 'The Division of Labor in Society
(1893)', Emile Durkheim concluded that increased specialization has two significant and
related effects: it actually changes the very nature of the social
bonds that hold society together, and it encourages individualism at the expense of community. To build a good society altruism, morality, and social
solidarity are essential ingredients.
Traditional societies, Durkheim argued,
are held together by mechanical solidarity, a form of social cohesion that is based on the
similarity of the members.
Because these societies are small and
because everyone does much the same work, the members are all socialized
in the same pattern, share the same experiences, and hold common values.
Collective solidarity refers to a state of social
bonding or interdependency based on similarity of beliefs, values and shared activities.
Organic solidarity is social cohesion
based upon the dependence individuals in advanced society have on each other. Organic
solidarity is more common among industrial societies where the division of labor is more
pronounced. Though individuals perform different tasks and often have different values and
interests, the order and very survival of society depends on their organic solidarity or
reliance on each other to perform their specific task.
The difference between value consensus
and structural integration can be more formally approximated in terms of Durkheim's own
terminology. Emile Durkheim distinguished between mechanical and organic solidarity.
Mechanical solidarity prevails to the extent that "ideas and tendencies common to all
members of the society are greater in number and intensity than those which pertain
personally to each member. This solidarity can grow only in inverse ratio to personality.
That is, mechanical solidarity prevails where individual differences are minimized and the
members of society are much alike in their devotion to common welfare and the
commonwealth. "Solidarity which comes from likeness is at its maximum when the
collective conscience completely envelops our whole conscience and coincides in all points
with it." Organic solidarity, in contrast, develops out of differences, rather than
likenesses, between individuals. Organic solidarity is a product of the division of labor.
With increasing differentiation of functions in a society come increasing differences
between its members.
While the individual elements in organic solidarity have less in common, they are
nevertheless much more interdependent than under mechanical solidarity. Each element in a
differentiated society is less strongly tied to common collective routines, even though it
may be bound with equal rigor to the differentiated and specialized tasks and roles that
characterize systems of organic solidarity.
A Proposal to Recycle Mechanical
and Organic Solidarity in Community Sociology.
Perry, Charles - Rural Sociology, v51 n3 p263-77 Fall 1986
Abstract: Explores geographical definition of communities and tendency for community
relations to transcend geographical boundaries. Reinterprets Durkheim's theory of social
solidarity to argue that division of labor directly reduces solidarity but indirectly
increases solidarity through secondary groups, the state, and the cult of individuality.
Social differentiation and
organic solidarity: The division of labor revisited
Journal Sociological Forum, Publisher Springer Netherlands - Hans-Peter Müller
Department of Social Sciences, Institute of Sociology, Humboldt University to Berlin,
Abstract This paper argues for the classicity of Durkheim's first book: the innovative way
viewing the compatibility of social order and individual autonomy; his sensitive
perception of uneasiness with regards to the crisis of anomie; the lucid sociological
account, especially the tripartite explanation of the division of labor in terms of its
functioning, emergence, and consequences; and the conceptualization of the problem of
orderi.e., the relationship of differentiation and integration. In all of these
respects, Durkheim's book is a classic. Yet classical neither means original nor flawless.
This is shown with respect to the relationship of division of labor and organic solidarity
by looking at the historical debate on the division of labor, by elucidating mechanical
and organic solidarity, and by carving out some of the problems inside organic solidarity.
Solidarity, Mechanical Solidarity
and Organic Solidarity - Anne M. Hornsby
Extract: French sociologist Émile Durkheim (18581917) coined the terms mechanical
and organic solidarity to describe two types of social organization, that is, ways in
which individuals are connected to each other and how they identify with the groups and
societies in which they live. Social solidarity is a state of unity or cohesion that
exists when people are integrated by strong social bonds and shared beliefs and also are
regulated by well-developed guidelines for action (values and norms that suggest worthy
goals and how people should attain them). In his first book, The Division of Labor in
Society (1893), Durkheim argued that social solidarity takes different forms in different
historical periods and varies in strength among groups in the same society. However,
reflecting the popularity of social evolutionary thought in the late nineteenth century,
Durkheim summarized all historical forms of solidarity into a traditionalmodern
dichotomy. Mechanical solidarity is a simple, pre-industrial form of social cohesion and
organic solidarity is a more complex form that evolves in modern societies. In developing
his mechanicalorganic distinction, Durkheim drew on the organicist thinking that
influenced many intellectuals of his generation, where human societies are analyzed with
analogies to biological organisms.
Organic Solidarity Due to the
Division of Labour
Belarus State Economic University
Everybody knows that there is a social cohesion whose cause lies in a certain conformity
of all particular consciences to a common type which is none other than the psychic type
There are in us two consciences: one contains states which are personal to each of us and
which characterise us, while the states which comprehend the other are common to all
society. To simplify the exposition, we hold that the individual appears only in one
society. In fact, we take part in several groups and there are several collective
consciences in us; but this complication changes nothing with regard to the relation that
we are now establishing.
This law definitely plays a role in society analogous to that played by the nervous system
in the organism. The latter has as its task, in effect, the regulation of the different
functions of the body in such a way as make them harmonise. It thus very naturally
expresses the state of concentration at which the organism has arrived, in accordance with
the division of physiological labour. Thus, on different levels of the animal scale, we
can measure the degree of this concentration according to the development of the nervous
system. Which is to say that we can equally measure the degree of concentration at which
society has arrived in accordance with the division of social labour according to the
development of cooperative law with restitutive sanctions. We can foresee the great
services that this criterion will render us.
There are in each of us, as we have said, two consciences: one of which is common to our
group in its entirety, which, consequently, is not ourselves, but society living and
acting within us; the other, on the contrary, represents that in us which is personal and
distinct, that which makes us an individual.
Solidarity which comes from likeness is at its maximum when the collective conscience
completely envelops our whole conscience and coincides in all points with it. The moment
when this solidarity exercises its force, our personality vanishes... for we are no longer
ourselves, but the collective life.
The social molecules which can be coherent in this way can act together only in the
measure that they have no actions of their own, as the molecules of inorganic bodies. That
is why we propose to call this type of solidarity mechanical. The term does not signify
that it is produced by mechanical and artificial means. We call it that only by analogy to
the cohesion which unites the elements of an inanimate body, as opposed to that which
makes a unity out of the elements of a living body...
It is quite otherwise with the solidarity which the division of labour produces. Whereas
the previous type [mechanical solidarity] implies that individuals resemble each other,
this type [organic solidarity] presumes their difference... each one has a sphere of
action which is peculiar to him; that is, a personality... on the one hand, each one
depends as much more strictly on society as labour is more divided; and, on the other, the
activity of each is as much more personal as it is more specialised...
This solidarity resembles that which we observe among the higher animals. Each organ, in
effect, has its special physiognomy, its autonomy. And, moreover, the unity of the
organism is as great as the individuation of the parts is more marked. Because of his
analogy, we propose to call the solidarity which is due to the division of labour,
organic. - Belarus State Economic University
Continuity and Change in Durkheim's Theory of Social Solidarity
M.J. Hawkins, Kingston Polytechnic
Abstract: This paper examines the controversial question of whether the theory of social
solidarity contained in The Division of Labor in Society remained crucial to Durkheim's
thinking after the book's publication in 1893. It is argued that this theory is rooted in
a number of assumptions concerning primitive social life, the boundaries between nature
and culture, and human nature. An analysis of material written after 1902 shows that
Durkheim revised his approach to these topics to such an extent that he appears to be in
the process of constructing a new theoretical framework for the investigation of social
solidarity. In both the early and the later theories, however, the models of primitive
social behavior, though different, perform similar intellectual functions.
Social Morals, the Sacred and State Regulation in Durkheims Sociology
Ivan Varga, Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada,
English Abstract: Durkheim analysed the mechanisms and types of institutions that create
organic solidarity and prevent it from imploding for lack of moral cement. In conformity
with his life-long preoccupation with the origins and role of morals, he laid great
emphasis on professional ethics and civic morals, together with the
institutionsprofessional associations ("corporations") and the
statethat ought to ensure the maintenance of solidarity and avoid, or at least
reduce, anomie. His considerations, explicitly or implicitly, involve the concept of the
sacred, its relationship to "political society" and morality, authority,
democracy, citizenship and "world patriotism".
French Abstract: Durkheim analysait les mécanismes et types des institutions qui créent
la solidarité organique et empêchent qu'elle n'implose à cause du manque de ciment
moral. Conformément à sa préoccupation de toujours par rapport aux origines et au rôle
des moeurs, il mettait en relation l'éthique professionnelle et les moeurs civiles avec
les institutions -- associations civiles (``corporations'') et l'État -- qui doivent
assurer le maintien de la solidarité et éviter, ou au moins réduire, l'anomie. Ses
réflexions impliquent, explicitement ou implicitement, le concept du sacré, son rapport
à la ``société politique'' et à la moralité, à l'autorité, à la démocratie, à la
citoyenneté et au ``patriotisme mondial''.
Sisters at Work - Career and Community Changes - ELIZABETH K.
BRIODY, TERESA A. SULLIVAN, University of Texas at Austin - Work and Occupations,
Vol. 15, No. 3, 313-333 (1988)
This article examines occupational differentiation of American Catholic sisters both prior
to and following the Second Vatican Council. The pre- Vatican II era is characterized in
terms of mechanical solidarity such that a common group identity and culture based on work
is shared. By contrast, apostolic sisters of the post-Vatican II period seem to exemplify
the concept of organic solidarity; there is more variation with regard to occupations and
life-style. The analysis focuses on the life histories of sisters residing in South Texas.
In particular, the analysis relates the diversification in their careers to changes in
their ideology and lifestyle, and the changing demographic and financial status of their
congregations. We suggest that the diversification of occupational choices among sisters
parallels that of working women more generally.