reaction paper

E. Durkheim, The Division of Labour in Society, trans. L. Coser London: MacMillian Press, 1984.

Durkheim studies the function of the division of labour and states the social need behind this. Durkheim investigates the division of labour from a moral aspect and indicates that it satisfies the solidarity need of societies. In order to explain the social solidarity he chooses law as an organization of social life and divides law into two types which are repressive (penal law) and restitutive (civil law). While arguing the role and reflections of repressive law he argues that consciousnesses of people represent both their individual personality and the collectivity and the social solidarity is the result of society’s common consciousnesses. After expressing solidarity results from repressive law, he puts the restitutory law to the opposite side and derives a second solidarity; organic solidarity, from the nature of contractual law since contracts also includes mutual obligations of the two counterparts. He defines organic solidarity as a system of different functions united by definite relationships and he definitely states that there is a positive solidarity, a cooperation, a completion in the nature of division of labour.

He also investigates the causes and conditions that the division of labour depends on. He puts the need and motivation for happiness as a main cause of all progresses in social life and he states that it forces the individual to specialise more and more. Therefore, one could easily say that Durkheim sees division of labour as a natural and a normal result of a basic need of a human. But then, he states the abnormal forms of division of labour. He argues that as the density of division of labour increases, it may cause social instabilities. For example, he points out that the increased diversification of functions may result moral diversity. Industrial/commercial crises, hostility between labour and capital, boycotts are other examples. He quoted passages from Comte that explains the isolation of an individual as a result of division of labour, the lost of awareness about who the other collaborators are and what the task is. Durkheim states that these states of anomies main cause is the lack of solidarity that division of labour fails to produce. Finally he concludes that under normal circumstances the division of labour is a source of solidarity and it assumes that the workers feels they are in use, their activity is meaningful and they are going forward to an accomplishment of a goal.

In my opinion like economists’ “perfect market” assumption, although he mentions the abnormal results of division of labour, Durkheim draws a “perfect division of labour” picture. It is my belief that these defined “abnormal forms” are not anomalies but the natural results of division of labour since capitalists will never think of self-awareness and solidarity of a worker but always seek for their own benefit and apply what is necessary in order to increase their welfare.

("so you can develop a Marxist critique of Durkheim!"  diye not düşmüş kağıda Kenan hoca)

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