This article provides information about the Durkheim’s views on development and progress:
Durkheim also conceived society in terms of an evolutionary scheme. He talked about social solidarity by which he meant the moral beliefs and ideas, which defined the “common sense” underlying social life. Like a social evolutionist, he was of the view that mechanical solidarity (characteristics of pre-industrial societies) was based on agreement and identity between people, while organic solidarity in industrial societies was derived from agreement to tolerate a range of differences, conflicts being moderated through a variety of institutional arrangements such as courts, trade unions and political parties.
In the pre-industrial societies there is little or no division of labour, every one works in similar ways and consumes in similar ways; there is little division of opinion, little individuality. In organic solidarity, on the other hand, there are specialisation of activities and advanced division of labour whose production, distribution and consumption are carried out in specialised ways.
Durkheim tried to explain social change as the result of changes in the bonds of morality, which he called social solidarity. Societies based on mechanical solidarity are transferred to organic solidarity by the growth of Industrialisation, heterogeneity, differentiation, specialisation of activity and individualism.
The problem of the growth of population, shrinking of natural resources and growing individualism (growth of material and moral density), according to him, is resolved by division of labour in the industrial society, i.e., in the organic solidarity.
As each individual is specialised and also individualism is respected they are socially integrated with bondage of division of labour. Indeed division of labour in the organic solidarity ensures the integration of individual specialisation in the system. However, abnormal division of labour, according to the Durkheim, may lead to formlessness.
To Durkheim, material density means sheer increase in the number of population in a give space. Which moral density indicates the increased interaction among individuals caused by their increase in numbers? Durkheim considers the development of the division of labour in the society to be associated with the increasing contact among people since the greater density of contact leads to the specialisation of people.
But, he argues, the moral relationship can only produce its effect only if the real distance between individuals diminish, which means increase in material density. What Durkheim refers here is that moral density cannot grow unless material density grows at the same time. He suggests three ways in which this happens:
People begin to concentrate together. Agriculture may begin this, and this continues with the growth of cities as well. Cities always result from the need of individuals to put themselves in very intimate contact with others. They can multiply and extend only if the moral density is raised. Increased number and rapidity of means of transportation and communication results in suppressing or diminishing the gaps separating social segments which in turn increase the density of society.