Short Answers (2) use examples and connect ideas in and text and lectures
True and False Questions – From the lectures.
Durkheim is dealing with the same issues that Marx and Weber are.
What is the relationship between individuals and society? What are the conditions
in which individuals are in a nonconflicting manner and integrated into a society
where social injustice and conflicts can be minimized?
In order to address that question, “The division of labour in society” book is
devoted precisely to asking those questions.
The problem: How is social order possible?
Durkheim is raising the same issue, how is social order possible? What is the
social glue that binds individuals together in society?
Durkheim’s answer: In simple societies, societies that are not so complex, what
happens is people in simple societies share a common “conscience collective”.
The idea here is that most people are so alike each other and there’s not so much
difference. In terms of values, in terms of occupation and access to resources that
they share something in common so there’s a lot of consensus over what’s wrong
and what’s write. This is what he labels conscience collective.
In these societies, you have prevalence of mechanical solidarity. Solidarity in the
sense when people pull together, identify with each other and share stuff together.
He means that people are alike each other so they don’t have to think too much
about how can we get a long because they do share something together.
E.g. a small town, people know each other. They would know who’s cooking
what and who’s eating what.
As society becomes more complicated, you begin to get the process of
differentiation. Individuals who are alike each other begin to differ from each
other. They have different views and slightly different conceptions of what is right
and what is wrong.
Organic solidarity: Any organism that has different parts (legs, mind, chest).
Society is one body but there’s a differentiation going on so different organs of an
organism perform very different functions but they all contribute to one organism.
Comparing society to a biological organism.
Durkheim realizes that there’s so much upheaval and conflict. There are new
forms of inequality. The inequality between the serfs and histocrats has
disappeared but there’s new inequality between the new capitalists.
He’s forced to make a major concession to karl marx. Durkheim is seen as a
conservative thinker, he is seemed to be opposed to Karl Marx.
He advocates the abolition of the inheritance of private property (Similar to Karl
Marx). His argument: It is a matter of luck like somebody like me is born in a highend
capitalist family. I haven’t done anything to get that wealth. There’s no proper
reason that my father’s wealth should be transferred to me. He says look, if this
continues to happen, there’s a recipe for the concentration of wealth in fewer and
fewer hands and there’s more inequality.
This is a recipe for disaster. Conflict is bound to happen.
The argument is that you need to redistribute wealth. Big time capitalists aren’t
making money in the vacuum; they are making money by exploiting proletariats.
Durkheim isn’t against capitalism, he’s against the idea of “I made it individually,
I have the right to take it and pass it to my family”. He wants to abolish the
INHERITANCE of private poverty.
Durkheim argues that you have certain institutions called “occupational gills”.
Durkheim argues one ought to device occupational gills. Where that inheritance
goes is to donate to occupational gills. They will redistribute the wealth. So
private property becomes public property. There’s more equality.
Focus of Durkheim – Similar to Marx and Weber.
He’s saying that to avoid class conflict is to preempt it by distribution of wealth.
Will high inheritance tax kill business enterprise? E.g. would you consider Japan
as a failure in business? No not at all. It is the strongest economy. Japan has the
highest rates of inheritance tax. Almost 25%. Despite all the problems happening,
Japan is largely seen as middle class society. It has not lead to a bad business
Progressive taxation – In Canada, you have progressive taxation. In the US, it has
been chopped away since the 1970s, which gives you the inequality that you find
now. Progressive taxation: If I make a lot of money, I pay more taxes. If I make
less money, I pay fewer taxes.
Theoretical Significance: The idea is that we might think of ourselves as isolated
individuals. If we are successful in business, of course we try to attribute it to
ourselves. We are so good, we are so smart. Sociologically speaking, there’s no
such thing as an isolated individual. We have benefited from a whole range of
social institutions. E.g. infrastructure, roads etc… No individual can construct his
or her enterprise in a vacuum. You sort of have to pay back to the very society
from which you benefitted from. Durkheim is anything but a socialist, but he uses
that vocabulary with the same arguments.
Video: Nick Hanauer
If taxes go up, job creation will go down.
Deviance, Crime and Punishment
Durkheim has an enormous contribution in understanding these particular issues.
Durkheim makes an argument. He argues that deviance even though is deviant
(opposite of normal), Durkheim argues deviance is normal. Just like Marx, zero is
something. He doesn’t mean all deviance acts are okay. He’s saying that there’s no society
that does not have deviance. It is normal in the sense that it is normal to have
deviance in any society. Not particular acts of deviance, but deviance in general.
A famous piece from Durkheim argues that imagine a society of saints or nuns,
you might expect in a community of saints that there won’t be any deviance.
Durkheim argues that it’s not true. Even in the society of saints, behaviour will be
labeled as deviant. E.g. sneezing in a holy gathering.
He jumps to the next point. He says there is no act that is deviant in and of by
itself. It is not the act in itself that makes it deviant or normal. It is the social
reaction to that which makes it