Anomie and Alienation: Catalysts for Society's Disintegration by PJ

Essay by woogie310University, Bachelor'sA, April 2005

download word file, 5 pages 3.0

Society's evolution into a modern arena brought on numerous changes. Emile Durkheim believed that this shift to modernity triggered a breakdown in social solidarity. Anomie, or normlessness, was a product of this rapid change and breakdown. He spoke of this state of anomie leading to the individual succumbing to a lack of social rules and regulations for life and taking his or her life. Karl Marx believed that as the world gets more immersed in a capitalist system, society would deteriorate as the working man becomes engrossed in the multiple steps toward complete alienation from his work and society itself. To Marx, this was to be the final step toward the great Proletarian revolution. Going into detail helps one discover and understand the similarities and differences between the two claims and the subjective experiences associated with them. Both men felt that an individual's separation from the norms of everyday life would trigger the downfall for society as a whole.

One of the obvious questions raised is why would this rapid transition into a modern state bring about such negative consequences in the first place? Durkheim's argument, especially notable in The Division of Labor and Society, centers on society being caught in a transitional phase from one based on mechanical solidarity to an organic one. The similarities of pre-industrial members of society were what brought them together and held the society together. They shared common beliefs and sentiments. A collective conscience existed among the members of society and this was the force that held the society together. This is what Durkheim referred to as mechanical solidarity. But as society and industry became modernized with it came the need for specialization and individual skills. The similarities between the members of society no longer existed. Specialization brought with it the need to maintain...