De la division du travail social
De la division du travail social, Durkheim's doctoral thesis, is his first major book; it is also the one in which the influence of Auguste Comte is most obvious. The theme of Durkheimian thought, and consequently the theme of this first book, is the relation between individuals and the collectivity. The problem might be stated thus: How can a multiplicity of individuals make up a society? How can individuals achieve what is the condition of social existence, namely, a consensus?
Durkheim's answer to this central question is to set up a distinction between two forms of solidarity and organic solidarity, respectively.
Mechanical solidarity is, to use Durkheim's language, a solidarity of resemblance. The major characteristic of a society in which mechanical solidarity prevails is that the individuals differ from one another as little as possible. The individuals, the members of the same collectivity, resemble each other because they feel the same emotions, cherish the same values, and hold the same things sacred. The society is coherent because the individuals are not yet differentiated.
The opposite form of solidarity, so-called organic solidarity, is one in which consensus, or the coherent unity of the collectivity, results from or is expressed by differentiation. The individuals are no longer similar, but different; and in a certain sense, which we shall examine