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A Difference in the Analysis of Modern Society - Durkheim and Goffman

Autor:   •  April 13, 2011  •  Case Study  •  3,066 Words (13 Pages)  •  1,357 Views

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It would be difficult for one to argue that society is not a complex, intricate, and capricious system of intertwined individuals that act in relation to one another. Therefore, it is not confounding to envisage the copious amounts of theories, writings, experiments and studies about society and its members. Typically, these works are neatly sectioned off into the standard categories of ‘classical' and ‘contemporary' sociology based upon the era that it was developed and a perceived relevancy of the work itself. These numerous theories have offered a general approach to understanding and contemplating society. This paper will compare and contrast the conceptual framework and logistical consistency of major theoretical perspectives in both classic and contemporary sociology. A consideration of how social conditions illuminate the fundamental questions of the modern era will emerge, and assist in an understanding for how modern theories actualize through a conversation between competing and complimentary conceptions and ideas of classic and contemporary sociologists. Thus, an exploration will commence into some of the most challenging sociological quandaries that have developed as both classic and contemporary sociologists have sought to articulate their theories and utilize them to analyze the intricacies of social structures and the complexities of social interaction.

Durkheim and Goffman

Within society, several dominating social structures, such as groups, institutions, statuses, classes and roles, are arguably in conflict with each other. This has specifically resulted in the exploration and research of several classic theorists on the forces responsible for holding society together; most notably French sociologist, Emile Durkheim. Durkheim proposed the cohesion observed among individuals in society was dictated by two distinct forces, mechanical and organic solidarity. Essentially for Durkheim, when individuals performed tasks that were similar in nature, they shared a form of group consciousness and a perception of congruency. It is this sense of semblance that Durkheim calls mechanical solidarity and it is specifically associated with primitive, agricultural societies. Nearly every member of these archaic societies was involved in the cultivation of their sources of sustenance, and as a result, exhibited a heightened sense of shared consciousness. Little diversity nor dissimilarity in cognitive thinking or disposition existed among the members of these communities. However, as societies began to develop into bigger, more robust cities in the wake of the industrial revolution spreading across Europe, a division in labor became more apparent and individuals became more specialized in the tasks they performed. This, according to Durkheim, resulted in a cohesion based not upon similarity, but rather on a communal sense of independence. Durkheim dubbed this social phenomenon

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