- ‘Division of Labour in Society’ 1893 by Durkheim was regarded as the first classic of Sociology.
- While Marx was pessimistic about the division of labour, Durkheim was cautiously optimistic.
- Division of labour is splitting of activities in a number of parts or smaller processes undertaken by different persons or groups.
- Occupational differentiation is symbolic of division of labour.
- Earlier explanations understood it in terms of increasing productivity and profit.
- Durkheim argued that division of labour exists not only in economic activities but in all spheres of life.
- Even at home there is a domestic division of labour and hence it is a social phenomenon.
- Division of labour is a social fact.
- To explain the cause, he employed an evolutionary perspective.
- In primitive societies, division of labour was very low.
- In modern societies, it is very high.
- In primitive societies, the actions of individual are controlled by the norms and values of society or the collective conscience of society.
- But in modern society, the control of norms and values are weakened and strength of collective conscience is weak.
- Primitive society is segmentary nature.
- People used to live in independent segments.
- Life is simple and all the individuals perform similar activities.
- Collective conscience is very strong.
- Solidarity is due to likeness or sameness.
- Society is very religious.
- Laws are very repressive.
- Population is very low – material density is low.
- Interaction between segments of population is also low – moral density is low.
- Durkheim believed that the cause of transition from mechanical to organic solidarity was the dynamic density which refers to the combination of the number of people in a society and the amount of interaction that occurs among them.
- With time population increases resulting into an increase in the material density.
- This leads to increase in the chances of interaction and hence increase in moral density.
- People from different segments now have an access to activities prevailing in other segments.
- This leads to competition.
- The fittest survives in an existing occupation while the unfit creates new occupations and specialisations.
- Thus, the problems associated with dynamic density are solved through differentiation.
- It initiates a never-ending process of division of labour and the emergence of an organic solidarity based society.
FUNCTIONS OF DIVISION OF LABOUR
- Greater efficiency.
- Increasing resources.
- Society is now based upon heterogeneity of relationships.
- Supreme value is attached to the individual.
- Solidarity is based on differences and dependency.
- Division of labour is a peaceful solution to the needs created by the increase of population, in size and density.
- Society becomes more secular.
- Laws become more reformative.
DYSFUNCTIONS OF DIVISION OF LABOUR
- Unchecked division of labour and rapid expansion of industrial activity leads to Anomie as social controls are weak.
- When economic pace is too fast and moral regulation is unable to keep pace with increasing differentiation, it leads to anomic pathological state of division of labour.
- Self-interest and individualism can be a threat to social unity.
- Symptoms of Anomie are high rates of suicide, marital breakup, industrial conflicts, etc.
- Criticised for being a top-down theory, i.e, puts individuals secondary to the will of society.
- He underplays economic factors and gives undue importance to social phenomenon..
- He projects division of labour as highly functional though he has given its dysfunctions also.