Sociology Index


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, David Emile Durkheim drew on the organicist thinking that influenced many intellectuals of his generation, where human societies are analyzed with analogies to biological organisms. 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)', David 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 socialization is 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 belief, 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.

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. 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 Muller
Department of Social Sciences, Institute of Sociology, Humboldt University to Berlin, Germany
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 order, i.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 Emile Durkheim (1858–1917) 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 traditional–modern 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 mechanical solidarity – 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 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 of society.

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.

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.

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 of organic solidarity presumes their difference.

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 solidarity. - 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 Durkheim’s Sociology 
Ivan Varga, Queen’s 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 institutions—professional associations ("corporations") and the state—that 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".

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. 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. 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.