Sociology Index

Social Solidarity

David Emile Durkheim was interested in understanding what holds society together though it is made up of people with specialized roles and responsibilities. In The Division of Labor in Society, Durkheim provides an answer using an external indicator of solidarity, the law, to reveal two types of social solidarity, Mechanical Solidarity and Organic Solidarity. To build a good society altruism, morality, and social solidarity are essential ingredients. Altruism and social solidarity are about activities intended to benefit the welfare of others. Morality entails distinctions between good and evil, and between right and wrong. Altruism and social solidarity are lead to moral culture.

Societies with mechanical solidarity are generally small with a high degree of religious commitment, and people in a mechanical society have similar jobs and responsibilities, indicating a low division of labor, one based on shared sentiments and responsibilities. Societies with organic solidarity are more secular and individualistic due to the specialization of tasks. Organic solidarity is more complex with a higher division of labor. Organic solidarity is a term used by Emile Durkheim to refer to a state of interdependency created by the specialization of roles and in which individuals and institutions become acutely dependent on others in a complex division of labour.

Collective Solidarity refers to a state of social bonding or interdependency which has foundation in similarity of belief, values and shared activities. 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. Difficulty in discussing social solidarity arises from the generality of the term. Durkheim argues in The Division of Labor in Society that the type of social solidarity has changed, due to the increasing division of labor.

Social Solidarity Abstracts

Social Solidarity, Human Rights, and Collective Action: Considerations in the Implementation of the National Health Insurance in South Africa
Renate Douwes, Maria Stuttaford, and Leslie London.
Abstract: Participation is recognized as an important contribution to implementing the right to health. It features as a key element of the global movement to achieve universal health coverage. This paper explores the interplay of trust, reciprocity, and altruism and how these individual actions can advance toward solidarity and collective action.

Durkheim’s Theory of Social Solidarity and Social Rules
Alexander Gofman
It is obvious and generally accepted that, in one form or another, social solidarity was always the focus of Durkheim’s attention. In fact, for him, it serves as a synonym for the normal state of society, while absence of it is a deviation from that normal state, or social pathology. The theme of solidarity permeates all his work. His first course of lectures at the University of Bordeaux, read in the years 1887–1888, was not by chance called “Social Solidarity,” while his doctoral thesis (1893) was devoted to the demonstration of the basic role of the division of labor in building, maintaining, and reinforcing social solidarity (Durkheim [1984] 1997). It is true that Durkheim gradually moved away from “social solidarity,” probably due to its massive use outside social science and the thinker’s unwillingness to become a victim of the idols of the marketplace or those of the theatre. His faithful disciple and nephew Marcel Mauss in his two well-known texts of 1931 and 1934, “Social Cohesion in Polysegmentary Societies” (Mauss 1969a) and “Fragment of a Plan of General Descriptive Sociology” (Mauss 1969b), prefers to speak of “social cohesion” and not of “social solidarity,” only briefly mentioning the two Durkheimian types of the latter in the second of these texts. Nevertheless, until the end of his life, even when Durkheim did not actually use “social solidarity,” he anyway researched and tried to substantiate the phenomenon in question.