November 19, 2009

Solidarity: What Brings Us Together

author_sally By Sally Raskoff

Are you a member of a club? Have you joined any organizations and spent any time or money with the group and the other members? You might be experiencing something that Emile Durkheim wrote about.image

Durkheim’s concepts of organic and mechanical solidarity are fun to think about. Organic solidarity is based on interdependence and is the social glue that keeps society together in complex societies. Mechanical solidarity, based on homogeneity and similarity, is the social glue that keeps society cohesive in less complex societies.

Durkheim saw in growing societies an increasingly complex division of labor, reinforcing differences among people. No longer would most people live in small communities, have the same jobs, and live the same type of lives, e.g., working on a farm. A more complex society consists of many different jobs and people living many different types of lives. If society is to survive as it becomes less homogeneous, new bonds would need to form based on those differences.

Interdependence is one such social bond, since when one specializes in one type of labor, one will depend on others to do the labor required in other areas. For example, if you are a doctor, you depend on nurses, physician’s assistants, and other medical professionals to get your job done, but you also depend on the mechanic to keep your transportation working, the barber or stylist to cut your hair, and the dry cleaners to keep your clothes pressed.

The social bonds created within occupational groups or within other interest groups is a secondary type of social glue connecting people in personal ways. Dense population centers support multiple interest groups, allowing people to join different networks of people and creating many different types of social glue.

When we first learn these concepts, we may assume that mechanical solidarity is replaced completely by organic solidarity. This may not necessarily be the case. In our current times, organic solidarity is likely to characterize the types of social cohesion that are primary while mechanical solidarity is less likely to describe how our societies maintain themselves.


Alexis de Tocqueville was well aware of our American propensity to volunteer. We are a nation of “joiners” as “Americans of all ages, all stations of life, and all types of disposition are forever forming associations” (Tocqueville, Democracy in America). Those student clubs on campus offer but one type of opportunity to join with others to pursue interests. We may, throughout our life span, join interest-based clubs, parent-child groups, neighborhood collectives, and occupational associations. image

Some of our understanding of this behavior is captured from surveys on volunteering. Volunteering is usually defined as working for some organization without pay. According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report, just over one quarter of the population volunteer for an organization. The tasks volunteers perform run the gamut from office work to ministering, food distribution, coaching, and artistic performances.

Can this sub-group activity of joining clubs be considered a micro version of mechanical solidarity? It does create groups of like-minded people, as those people come together to perform some common task. Volunteers have things in common that brought them together for a shared goal. The application of the concept doesn’t work entirely, however, since people who belong to the same organization are not held together as tightly as are people in smaller heterogeneous communities.

Durkheim’s concept of the collective conscience helps us understand the difference as it represents the shared beliefs in a society. Those who live in smaller homogenous societies (mechanical solidarity) share a very strong belief and moral structure while those in more complex heterogeneous societies (organic solidarity) may not. Those smaller occupational and interest groups that we join provide a collection of beliefs to which we may belong and between which there may or may not be any cohesiveness.

Take a moment and consider the groups in which you take part. How important to you are they? How strong is the group’s collective consciousness, or shared beliefs? How does interdependence relate to the group? Society is made possible by our bonds with one another; I invite you to consider the number and quality of yours.


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Interdependence is one such social bond, since when one specializes in one type of labor, one will depend on others to do the labor required in other areas. For example, if you are a doctor, you depend on nurses, physician’s assistants, and other medical professionals to get your job done, but you also depend on the mechanic to keep your transportation working, the barber or stylist to cut your hair, and the dry cleaners to keep your clothes pressed.

In a complex society, people who perform specialized roles are largely interchangeable. I rely on a mechanic to fix my car, but I do not rely on any particular mechanic. If my regular mechanic goes away, or if I am in some way dissatisfied, I can just find another one. The social bond that is created by the dependence is to the role, not the individual. I believe that this decreases the need to have a true, interpersonal social bond.

Pardon... it seems the blog automatically strips out HTML. The first paragraph was intended to have been an italicized quote.

I agree that, as we increase our interdependence, we are indeed only increasing our dependence on another role, not another person. Although organic societies all need other experts, there are usually many more than simply one expert of any given field. I think the amount of options and the "shopping around" involved actually weakens the social bond between individuals, even as it strengthens the social bonds of groups.

This article has to do with people depending on others. I depend on my parents for money. I depend on people to fix things that are broken such as a car or door in a house. I have a regular hair stylist and I will not go to a different one. If she goes away I am very distraught and I stress out because I don't know what to do. I know I can find another one but I would just rather not have to do that and rely on the one I already have. I do believe this decreases the rights that we will have different bonds with others. If we do not just settle for one person or thing we have the chance to meet others and interact with other people.

I feel that i have the people I can always rely on, but although those bonds are strong reaching out and interacting with other people are good too and hopefully one day to build thoose bonds as well.

Iam in a sorority which is a social group. It said to think about the groups you are apart of and how interdependence relates to groups. I think i have an interdependence on my sorority because they have provided me with a home away from home as well as iam a positive influence as a member of my sorority. The biggest need of a human is the need to belong. Groups creates this feeling of a place to belong.

I agree with MBrooks. We need to realize that the underlying factor in if we take the chance to expand the bonds in our social groups involves a large amount of trust and recommendation. If we are comfortable with the norm and there are no problems, "don't fix it if it ain't broke" so to speak. Just as Bardwell mentioned above, if we are dissatisfied with the quality of service we are provided, we then seek alternative providers. But this only occurs after there has been a breach in the "trust safety net".

In modern societies, a person has different identities. When he/she joins a group he/she MERELY shares a limmited of his/her identity with the group. In global society, for example, I am an Iranian sociologist and I join your group to discuss sociological matters, but I don't share my emotions, religion, political orientations... with you. So I think this can not be considered as a (micro) mechanical solidarity.

This article is interesting because it is about interdependence and how people need one another even though in our society people are becoming more independent. People need one another and need to rely on each other. Take myself for example, I need money from my parents. They buy me food and support my housing. If I really think about it, it would be very hard to live without my parents support. I would need a job and might not even be able to go to college. People also work together. If it is in a work place or on a construction site or if it is in the classroom, we are all use to some kind of group project or something to do together. We all depend on one another.

I think it is very interesting how dependant we really are on each other. I also belive it is often overlooked how much we do and provide for others as they do the same, whether working for a company, running a business or volunteering for an organization.

This article is very true. If we think about why we do the things we do in society and in general, it is for the approval and support of others. It is interesting to think about how dependent we are on each other; including friends, family and even strangers. When joining groups, it’s true that people have different identities and we usually put forth the one we think will be most approved by others in the group.

Living in a mechanical solidarity is a quickly growing thing i believe. It seems like the organic type of solidarity is slowly fading out seeing as how most of our population resides in the cities. But i like what this article is pointing out when it mention how dependent people within a group are on each other. I volunteered at a festival and worked with people united for a common cause to see music in exchange for a free ticket. These bonds formed between complete strangers is something that is very unique.

I also find this article very interesting because it is true how people all rely on one another, whether or not we see it. Its part of every day life and without the vast majority of jobs being done by other individuals, we could not complete our own. If I think about why we do the things we do in society, I only come up with the answer that we do these things because they are accepted in our society. In this society people have very very unique identities. When we join a group, our values and behavior must be accepted by others in the group.

I agree completely, and in a way i think if it weren't for other people we would lead very short lives. People are the center that we revolve around and really its like a giant chain of social connections

Interdependance is seen often in our society today, we always depend on others to do their work in order for us to be able to do ours. Not only is this seen in workplaces, but you can also see this is in households, school, and even social relationships. In your house, you might depend on your mom or sister to keep up with the laundry in order for you to be clothed, or you might depend on that one group member to type up your group project. Everyone in the world relies on SOMETHING, little or big, we alll depend on that one person.

i definitely agree, but most of all with the notion that we do not see who we always depend on. There are many people that day to day we count on and even look upon on but we do not realize it. from school, work, and even at home, or mostly at home. because at home we have the institution of the family, which we can count more on and depend on.

I agree with B Safari and it makes me wonder although we at any given time belong to many "groups" our core identities are truly hidden. My barber only knows the information I discuss with him about me. In differnt groups how much of our true selves do we reveal?

I agree with this blog. We as a society definitely depend on other people to keep us grounded to help us to be our support system. Although we not always realize it we defiantly also depend on other to have our backs. And I think it is very necessary, to help us as people to survive day to day life to depend on other people.

While I was reading Dr. Sally Raskoff’s article about solidarity, I decided to write some notes about what has been in my mind for several months. please read it and send me your ideas:

It really is interesting to think about how dependent we are others. I depend on many people every day; my parents, my teachers, the bus driver, friends... No matter how insignificant a job or person may seem, they play a part in how we live every day. I depend on my friends for support and approval, but I know that they depend on me just as equally.
I believe social groups to be a good thing because they create a sense of belonging. 'Cliques' are established early off in school. People who share common interests normally hang out together.

I think that this works the same as how family bonding evolves over time, societies change constantly and the way families interact with one another also changes all the time. Fifty years ago families sat down and watched TV or listened to the radio together. Nowadays family time in my opinion is dispersed in "micro-doses" throughout the day.

I agree that we have this interdependence, and that it is more common in smaller towns. You do end up having a certain person that cuts your hair, and when that person is gone it is stressful to put trust into someone new, its hard to trust that they will do it just how you like it. It's the same with a babysitter, a mechanic, or even a certain waitress/waiter at a restaurant. These are people we put trust on, people we have known for awhile, people we are comfortable with. We don't switch things up and meet new people, we don't go out of our comfort zones.

I like the way you talked about social bonds with occupational groups.

It really is interesting to think about how dependent we are others. I depend on many people every day; my parents, my teachers, the bus driver, friends... No matter how insignificant a job or person may seem, they play a part in how we live every day. I depend on my friends for support and approval, but I know that they depend on me just as equally.
I believe social groups to be a good thing because they create a sense of belonging. 'Cliques' are established early off in school. People who share common interests normally hang out together.

I sing in a Church choir. This group is very important to me I rearrange my schedule to make sure that I make rehearsals and singing engagements. We may not all have the same conviction that I have as far as commitment to the group but we all do share the same belief as far as the religious aspects of the religion. I tread lightly on the subject of the religious aspect because some of my beliefs about religion are not theirs although they do know the rules, we may not follow it to the letter. We are interdependent because without a certain part we cannot accomplish our harmonies that are required to sing certain types of music, but we can sing the music harmonically; not as interesting or as pleasant to the ear.

I belong to a bike club back at home. I would say the importance of the club wasn't a big deal but I liked going every sunday morning on the groups bike routes it was a great way of socializing and getting good exercise. With the question of the groups shared belief on going biking I believe it was very strong. All the regular and main group members came every sunday rain or shine. Also they spent a decent amount of money on parts and there frame. Well I think the interdependence in the group was based on having someone else that had the same passion and you can enjoy while biking. It's not anything serious like a barber or a IT service man but its something that is interdependent on people. Society is definitely interdependent or we couldn't call society society.

People tend to like similarities with a lot of other people, but I think there's a much more satisfying relationship when two or more people meet and learn to accept their differences and carry on.

This was a very interesting article.

The sub-group activity of joining clubs can be considered a micro version of mechanical solidarity because people who belong to these clubs are of the same mind. They have the same purpose of what they are doing.

Back in the Philippines, I joined a religious club. I feel home with the memebers. We are one big family.

Joining any groups or clubs may be of such interest but the main reason is to meet new people be part of a new environment and feel part of something new. Meeting people of different backgrounds and ethnicities is always something nice that is what this blog is about.

As of now I am not part of an organization, but when I was in high school, I did take part in sports. We all had different views and ways of doing things, but when it came down to one goal we were all on the same page.

We all tried to respect eachother's opions, regardless how much we might not agree with the person.

Interdependence had everything to do with the and us as individuals. When people saw us in or out of uniform, they put the two together and held us to the standard that we represent the school.

Yes, joining clubs can be a micro sociology version of mechanical solidarity. If you take a look at the people that are volunteering for an organization, you will see that they are working together to reach the same goal. The volunteers in that group also share the same beliefs and vision in which they will ultimately learn that believing in the same beliefs will affect the larger patterns of their communities.
2. I am currently in a group called Korean American Student Association, otherwise known as KASA. KASA brings together a collective group of people that believe in the same cause and beliefs, not only from my CSUN but from everywhere around the world. This organization thrives students to become leaders and to ultimately educate their communities about Korean-American heritage. Members within the organization depend on each other to come out to events and show their faces and talk with other individuals about the Korean-American heritage.

The sub-group activity of joining clubs can be considered a micro version of mechanical solidarity because those who share the same traditions and beliefs create a sense of social cohesion. I am part of the salsa club on campus known as Salsa Libre. I have been part of the team for two years. I am very close to my team mates, so close, that I consider them part of my family. Most of us share the same beliefs and moral attitudes. Our upbringing and cultures might play a part in our team’s collective consciousness being very strong. Our team creates social bonds by relying on our team’s board to complete the appropriate tasks to keep everything running smoothly. We also rely on each other to learn, advance, and perfect moves in our dancing and routine.

Being a part of those who agree with Sally Raskoff, I feel that her quote "we might not be bowling in leagues as much as we used to, but that doesn't mean we aren't involved in our communities.", explains that a lot of people may not seem like they are involved within their communities like they used to be, BUT that does not mean they are not involved. I know of a lot of people who are engaged within their communities and helping the youth. There are a lot of organizations many people do not know about and because a lot of people are NOT engaged they go based off of what they know. Kin and close fried s of mine are always engaged with helping others. If more people would get involved with their communities it would help broadcast the movement people would get involved.

1. I do believe joining clubs is considered a micro version of mechanical solidarity because all those people joining that club have the same reason why and goals to achieve while being in that club. They all might have had an experience with it before or share the same beliefs as if it was a religious type of group/club. Also prior to joining that club the person knows ahead of time what they are getting them selves into by meeting new people but having somewhat the same ideas.
2. As of right now I don't take part of any group but when I played softball for a traveling team, the team was every important to me. We all were different when it came to beliefs but we all were in the team together because of our passion for softball and that's when other things we had in common came along. Interdependence related to us because we depended on each other to do our best during our games and win even though we each played different positions we had to do our best for the team. We may have been different but as a whole we were one, the way many people saw us.

The sub-group activity of joining clubs can be a micro version of mechanical solidarity because it allows people with the same goals and intentions to come together to work towards those goals. By coming together, it strengthens the society by creating new relationships and getting to know more people.

I volunteer to take care of kids at summer camp at a church in my community every year. This group is important to me. The group's collective consciousness and shared beliefs are very strong. Interdependence relates to group. The campers rely on the campers to take care of them and feed them. The counselors depend on the cooks to make and prepare the food. The cooks depend on the parish to raise money and bring food to cook and so forth.

Generally, people do better job when they work together. It encouraged each other to push themselves to the limit. As elder says having ravelry help you to be successful in end of the day. Therefore I do believe that group activities such as club, organization and family are very special things in a human life.

Yes, sub- group activity of joining clubs can be considered a micro version of mechanical solidarity. People apart of a club have things in common which helps bring them together. This helps them express their feelings with others with the same beliefs. A group I would want to be apart of is a dog adoption/ rescue league. Animals mean the world to me and tons of people around the world are creating their own rescues. This group relies on everyone individually and as a whole. Without everyones help finding homes for dogs there would be no success.

Society cause us to interact with others to exist. We are dependent on each other regardless. Survivor means being somewhat dependent.

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