Alienation literally means ‘separation from’. Marx has conceived of alienation as a phenomenon of the structure of those societies in which ‘dead labour’ (capital) dominates ‘living labour’ (the worker). Alienation in the domain of work has a four-fold aspect. Man is alienated from
1. The object he produces.
2. The process of production
4. The community of his fellows
Emile Durkheim (1858-1917)
Emile Durkheim is best remembered for his efforts in making sociology accepted as an autonomous academic discipline. He won recognition for the idea of a science of society, which could contribute to the study of moral and intellectual problems of modern society.
Durkheim considered social sciences to be distinct from natural sciences because social sciences dealt with human relationships. However, the method used in natural sciences could be used in the social sciences as well.
For Durkheim, society is a reality suigeneris, formed by the association of individuals. So, society exhibits a specific reality which has its own characteristics. Societal reality is apart from individuals and is over and above them. Thus, the reality of society must be the subject matter of sociology. A scientific understanding of any social phenomenon must emerge from the ‘collective’ or associational characteristics manifest in the social structure of a society.
Foundation of Durkheim’s version of Sociology is laid on the objective reality of social facts. Social fact is that way of acting, thinking or feeling, etc., which is more or less general in a given society. Durkheim treated social facts as things. They are real and exist independent of this individual’s will or desire. They are external to individuals and are capable of exerting constraint upon them, i.e., they are coercive in nature. Further, social facts exist in their own right. They are independent of individual manifestations. The true nature of social facts lies in the collective or associational characteristics inherent in society. Legal codes, and customs, moral rules, religious beliefs and practices, languages etc. are all social facts.
In his theory of suicide Durkheim has best demonstrated the cause-effect relationship in 1897, where he demonstrated that some societal conditions other than individual mental condition induce person to suicide.
Division of Labour
Durkheim was curious to know the forces which regulate and control the social life. For this he established dichotomy between segmental and complex societies. He propounds that two types of solidarities, i.e., mechanical and organic, can be identified through the types of the law in different kinds of social structures. Mechanical solidarity is born in the natural course of events based on resemblances of individuals. It directly links them with the society.
Durkheim viewed that division of labour is an essential condition of organic solidarity, and it gradually replaces that engendered by social likeness. Here, individual depends upon those parts which the society is composed of. In this respect a society is an arrangement of different and specific functions which are linked mutually by social bonds. In this conception the differences among the individuals are visible to the extent that everybody has his specific field of activities and confines himself or herself to that area only. Hence, the individual’s conscience is distinct from the collective conscience.