Social solidarity

Social solidarity refers to the integration, and degree and type of integration, shown by a society or group."Collins Dictionary of Sociology", p621.] It refers to the ties in a society - social relations - that bind people to one another. Solidarity is commonly associated with political socialism, being seen as the driving force and defining temperament behind the ideal classless work force.

What forms the basis of solidarity varies between societies. In simple societies it may be mainly based around kinship and shared values. In more complex societies there are various theories as to what contributes the sense of social solidarity.


Émile Durkheim introduced the terms "mechanical" and "organic solidarity" as part of his theory of the development of societies in "The Division of Labour in Society" (1893). In a society exhibiting mechanical solidarity, its cohesion and integration comes from the homogeneity of individuals—people feel connected through similar work, educational and religious training, and lifestyle. Mechanical solidarity normally operates in "traditional" and small scale societies."Collins Dictionary of Sociology", p405-6.] Organic solidarity comes from the interdependence that arises from specialization of work and the complementarities between people—a development which occurs in "modern" and "industrial" societies..Definition;it is social cohesion based upon the dependence individuals in more advanced societies have on each other. Although individuals perform different tasks and often have different values and interest, the order and very solidarity of society depends on their reliance on each other to perform their specified tasks.

The two types of solidarity can be distinguished by morphological and demographic features, type of norms in existence, and the intensity and content of the "conscience collective".

"...if I have properly understood gesellschaft is supposed to be characterised by a progressivedevelopment of individualism, the dispersive effects of which can only be prevented for a time,and by artificial means by the action of the state, it is essentially a mechanical aggregate."

*Durkheim believed that Toennies saw individualism as working against moral order, people become unattached like atoms flowing in space suggesting that the only thing holding people together, prevented relationships from fracturing, and holds people to society was the imposition of order and coherence of the state.

*Durkheim asserted that the life of social agglomerates is just as natural, and is no less internal as that of small groupings.

*Durkheim wrote about two kinds of solidarity: Mechanical solidarity and Organic solidarity.

*He characterised preindustrial societies as mechanical and industrial societies as organic (thus opposing Toennies theories by using opposite terminology)

*Although the bonds of mechanical solidarity were based on "a more or less organized totality of beliefs and sentiments common to all the members of the group," this gave way in industrial society to potent new forces that were characterised by heightened complexity and differentiation, an increased dependence on society, and, seemingly paradoxically at first glance, a growing level of individual autonomy. [Kivisto, Peter, "Key Ideas in Sociology", 2nd ed. Pine Forge Press 2004]



*cite book
last = Jary
first = David
authorlink =
coauthors = Julia Jary
title = Collins Dictionary of Sociology
publisher = Harper Collins
date = 1991
location = Glasgow
pages = 774
url =
doi =
id = ISBN 0-00-470804-0

Other reading

* Ankerl, Guy: "Toward a social contract on world-wide scale: Solidarity contract." Geneva, ILO, 1980, ISBN 92-9014-165-4

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