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Lecture 2

SOC483Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Hebrew Calendar, Georg Simmel, Mechanical And Organic Solidarity

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Vanina Leschziner

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SOC483Y1 Lecture 2 Wednesday September 21, 2011
Durkheim- selection from conclusion pg. 433-448
Simmel- pg. 122-128, 135-136, 330-333 (easier to understand…)
How did they understand “where thoughts came from?”
Goals for today: How they both understood society…connection between individual and society
Where did mental schema come from for both?
DURKHEIM- more anthropology based (French 1858-1917)
Functioning- needs to work otherwise weeded out- thus founder of functionalism everything
needed a function (came from Herbert Spencer)
- Founder of sociology
- How did Durkheim view society? relied on organistic/body metaphor
- Collective Conscience society not sum of individuals, collective in and of itself society has a
reality of its own “sui generis” – it exists above and beyond us
- Durkheim assumes we all have individual consciousness but collection conscience is prior, has
life of its own
2) Solidarity: organic/mechanical solidarity
- important for Durkheim
- distinction between organic and mechanical stems from division of labour:
mechanical solidarity: in early societies without real division of labour
- because people had a lot in common they all did their own parts but most
people had pretty similar roles so solidarity results mechanically
organic: growing specialization and division of labour: modern
- growing individualism: people have more unique roles such as
doctor/mother/professor and it is unlikely that people share similar work
- interdependence holds people together in organic society
o society as an organism: different elements of society serve individual functions
but working together as organs in a body
o increase in individual consciousness with increased
*Spends a lot of time thinking of concepts building blocks of our thinking!
- Durkheim wants to explain where those concepts come from
- How it is we come to have certain ideas about time/space/social order
- This book is important because it refers to why there is a need for the classification of knowledge
Elementary Origins of Religious Life
- Why did he study religion? Very elementary form of social organization, then move to social level
- he studied the most basic form of religion because it is easier to start with simplest then move on
to complex
- Started with religions of “primitive people” – simple functions simple to observe
Totemism: giving spiritual value to objects; represents God
- All social life revolved around the totem: it means that the totem represents God but it also
represents society:
GOD = SOCIETY (they are one in the same thing)
This implies 2 things:
1. There is a temporal organization that revolves around the totem different ceremonies for
different times (sunset, harvest..) This comes from a religious order and a natural order…
2. Spatial organization about it: and some things that are done to the left/right
- way people organize time and space around religious life: religious and natural basis
(natural: not just an arbitrary concepts but based in real actual practices)
We go up in levels of complexities and abstraction Many of his concepts originate in lower
orders- natural/religious/social/logical
Implications for social organization:
1. Natural Order
2. Religious Order
3. Social Logical Order (can be separated)
- For Durkheim these are all interconnected (as opposed to other thinkers) and are one and the
same because they all come from a natural order
- Like Primitive Classifications he uses concepts most in this work and Religious where he
develops a sociology of knowledge big departure from previous work
What does that mean/why is that important?
- The way we order stuff comes very much from collective life
- Many thinkers believe that religious and logical order don’t stem from natural order, especially
not society
- Social construction: idea that changes, isn’t permanent; post-modern social construction as
arbitrary: it could have been something else that was constructed instead
- Durkheim doesn’t believe that social construction is arbitrary, they have a natural basis
- Durkheim was trying to reconcile 2 schools of thought when coming up with his theory:
Empiricism and Apriorism
Empiricism: theories/hypothesis have a basis in empirical data via sensorial experience
developed, Durkheim says that because through experience it would not be rational no rational
thinking in that for Durkheim so he says you should not think of concepts in this way
Apriori: things are naturally given; things are not purely artificial constructs but that they are
naturally given, not socially constructed they have an objective reality that they are already
- Durkheim would not use word “Social construction” – who is author discussing with/against?
- Durkheim discussed with others of the time late 19th century France- empiricism was prominent
he was an empiricist and thought we needed a lot of empirical data to make a claim
- When he says they are apriori- he talks with likes of Kant (hard core empiricist) acknowledge
objective reality, how important concepts are besides our personal experience, so influential, such
power over us thus they are a priori they proceed our personal experience… concepts only in so
far we share them
Durkheim’s concepts incorporate both theories (empiricism and a priori):
temporal/spatial categories derive from natural works
Concept can only come to life if activated in a society, to reconcile how social and
apriori Durkheim is interested in what happens when we come into a society,
concepts already there, socially created…
Pre-individual and pre-subjective but not pre-social
Ex: 1+1 = abstraction -- where as + is a symbol not a priori
Concepts are the building blocks for logical thought (Gold Retriever is a concept we use to
refer to category of dogs)
Connection between logical order and social order- which are connected- even primitive
societies have logical thought + concepts
What is Classified First?
- The first thing we classify as human being is people
- We start classifying people into classes, and only after we start organizing people do other
classifications emerge
- Preliminary Classification: many of the words we use today to classify groups of things have their
origins in groups of people
has to be a connection between classifying people and groups