Lecture 23 - Durkheim's Theory of Anomie

author: Iván Szelényi, Yale University
recorded by: Yale University
published: June 24, 2012,   recorded: December 2009,   views: 2679
released under terms of: Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives (CC-BY-ND)
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In the transition from mechanical solidarity to organic solidarity, brought on by increasing division of labor, industrialization, and urbanization, Durkheim argues that there will be social pathologies, which he calls anomie. These abnormal and unhealthy consequences of the change in type of social solidarity have various causes. Durkheim is best known for arguing that a lack of moral regulation leads to social pathologies, but he also argues that overregulation--in the form of forced division of labor--will lead to fatalism, a kind of anomie. Anomie resulting from excessive demands on individuals from the market is similar to Marx's notion of alienation, although Durkheim does not use the terms alienation or exploitation. For Durkheim, anomie is an irregular form of the increasing division of labor and industrialization; it is not internal to the system itself. Durkheim's optimism about capitalism and his position that people need regulation, similar to Hobbes's conception of human nature, contrast sharply with Marx's ideas.

Reading assignment:

Durkheim, The Division of Labor, pp. 291-341

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