Emile Durkheim was a French sociologist that saw Sociology as a tool for diagnosing and analyzing the world’s problems. Durkheim talked about social solidarity, a collectivism, as a way to push men together to increase opportunities for relationships which bring an increase of development of the division of labor. Division of labor is how society differs itself through occupational roles. He thought of division of labor as a result of changes in social solidarity, in which there are two concepts. Mechanical solidarity is of a lower division of labor, people serve multiple roles and it is defined as a likeness. People in a mechanical society have similar upbringings, their interactions are based on relationships and they have a low population that’s homogenous. There’s the concept of the collective consciousness, a set of shared beliefs or morals that a community shares within it. Their value is communal rather than individualistic. The other type of solidarity is organic solidarity. It’s a high division of labor where there is differentiation that creates interdependence of others for their skill. Organic communities tend to be of larger populations where society is less personal but more specialized. Interactions are for a need basis, rather than for relationships and an individual strives for their own determination rather than what society needs.
Social solidarity and its two types can be applied to current societies that exist. In class we talked about the Amish community as an example of mechanical solidarity. They rely on each other, their community has a degree of collective consciousness. Their work is for the benefit of their own community and they limit their interaction with the modern society. For organic solidarity we used the example of hospitals. If a person is sick, they rely on the hospital and its diverse staff to help them based on their specialization. People consult a doctor, then a pharmacist for medication. If you require surgery, you would need the help of a nurse to help you recuperate. I want to focus on another example of organic solidarity, one that has a large population of individuals that depend on others because of their roles or specializations. The cyber world is a society of its own, made up of individuals that rely on each other for sources of information. The interdependence of people on the internet creates a high level of division of labor, which is greatly used in advanced societies.
Durkheim talked about increased specialization that exists in societies that are highly civilized. The cyber world prospers in a society of individuals that do various tasks that not everyone can. Around seven billion people use the internet to search for information and for entertainment (Internet World Statistics 2014). Internet users create websites or videos to teach people how to do things. The morphological basis (or structural) creates a role people have that others can go to for special needs or requests. YouTube, for example, has ‘gurus’ that specialize in tasks such as cooking, make-up or even exercising. So, if a person doesn’t know how to lose weight, they can go on the internet to search for people that can tell them how to eat right or exercise correctly. It is similar as going to a doctor and pharmacist in a hospital to see how or why you got an infection and what you can do to prevent it. If you don’t like hospitals, do you think laughter is the best medicine? There’s videos of comedians or pranksters that can cheer anyone up.
For organic solidarity, Durkheim talks about the types of norms that are followed by the creation of laws. In organic societies the laws are there to make sure people cooperate. As many people in this generation know, there are internet laws that protect the use of copyrighted material from piracy. The “No Electronic Theft Law" (NET Act) makes it illegal for internet users to copy and distribute copyrighted music or videos without permission from the owner of production (RIAA 2014). Federal laws like the NET Act helps regulate behavior and actions and to encourage cooperation in the cyber world. Societies need rules to help fix itself and guarantee that the production of others isn’t misused, similar to the laws of the internet social world. This helps the continuation of work that individuals do for a means of their own prosperity.
When I compared mechanical and organic solidarity, I mentioned before that mechanical societies have a collective consciousness. In organic societies there is a lesser consensus on the values or morals of that community. Organic communities make their own decisions, without going along with the beliefs of the society. If we think about the jobs or roles people on the internet have, it is based on what they want or are knowledgeable of. It has nothing to do with what the Internet wants but what they can accomplish and offer to the cyber world, and eventually what others can gain from this knowledge. Mechanical communities base their value on religious or spiritual goals that is emphasized by the rest of the community because they all believe in the same thing. For organic solidarity, it is of secular background that is based on the human behavior and interest. There isn’t a value added to the work they produce, it is only for their benefit and their own personal goals. People on the internet don’t upload videos on YouTube or informational content on Wikipedia because there is a spiritual entity tied to the cyber world.
In conclusion, the cyber world is a highly populated society that has specialized fields that exist because of the high level of the division of labor. The cyber world is less personalized, therefore the relationships people have aren’t for meaningful social bonds but as a way for guidance dependent on people’s specific roles or statuses. We use the internet because we trust the information we get from it, it holds this knowledge that is vast and broad that we cannot completely specialize in. That is why I compared the cyber world we live in as an organic society.
Internet World Stats. 2014. Retrieved February 20th, 2014. (http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm).
Recording Industry Association of America. 2014. “The Law”. Retrieved February 20th, 2014. (http://www.riaa.com/physicalpiracy.php?content_selector=piracy_online_the_law)