Tag Archives: division of labor

Marx vs. Durkheim

Durkheim and Marx both held different opinions about Capitalism, specifically the modern division of labor. Marx was a conflict theorist and argued that the division of labor resulted in alienation, he mainly focused on the social inequalities between social groups. On the other hand, Durkheim claimed that the division of labor was not necessarily bad for the individual or society. Unlike Marx who claimed economic specialization produced alienation, Durkheim who was a functionalist, believed the division of labor was beneficial for society because it increases the worker’s skill and created a feeling of solidarity between people. He claimed the division of labor creates a certain balance and unites social systems, essentially making them more efficient. Although Marx and Durkheim were essentially basing their theories from the 19th century and the rise of industrialization, the division of labor theory can still be applied in today’s society.

 Durkheim disagrees with Marx on alienation, he believes only in rare circumstances do people actually become aliented. In todays society someone who agrees with Durkheim would argue that the worker who works in retail is constantly interacting with other people, whether it is other workers or the customers. Although their task is to sell or restock, they understand that they are part of a bigger picture, they are helping economy, therefore the worker remains consious of their humanity.  The worker sees they are part of a whole, as Durkheim says “he knows that his activity has a meaning.” 

 Based on the two arguments, I would agree with both. I believe workers do tend to get alienated from their work, for example my friends who work in retail always complain about how much they dislike their job. Similar to the workers becoming “the machine,” in todays society workers become “the dummies” in order to sell and make their wage or commission. Along the lines of Marx’s theory, employees work out of necessity, therefore they grow more and more resentful of their jobs. However I don’t believe alienation is the correct term, not every worker hates their job and my friends certainly do not feel isolated from their jobs. In other words I believe a better word for alienation is people feeling occasional discontent in their jobs. For example I am a waitress and bar tender, my hourly wage is very low because I get tips. There are days where I feel extremely discontent, days where it’s not busy, or days when customers are cheap; however, there are days where I have my regular customers or even new ones who always brighten up my day. Along the lines of Durkheim’s theory, I believe economic specialization is not necessarily bad, because I find that since I’ve been specializing in my job for so long, I am actually really good at it. But then again I am a bit biased, because I have great relationships with my boss and co-workers and actually enjoy my job. 

 Overall, I believe a combination of both theories is essentially the most accurate in today’s society. Although I just make drinks and serve them, I do not feel alienated from my job. Although my friends simply engage people to buy or work at the cash register, they do not necessarily feel alienated, especially in today’s society. However there are cases where people MUST work and do resent their jobs. 


Gilman and the division of labor

blog #4: I personally like the traditional division of labor Gilman speaks of in her book women and economics. Gilman says that evil is society differentiating between what women and men should look like. She said that the traditional division of labor is rooted in patriarchy. This is where the man has all the authority and the woman is dependent on him economically and socially. So my question is why is it bad for a woman to run a home and raise her kids? How is the work she does at home exploiting her? And how is it bad that society should separate what men and women look like?  I think that our society today has placed a tremendous amount of pressure on women to work because if they don’t than their giving into a “patriarchy system”. We have given the “stay at home mom” a bad name so to speak. I feel that if our society valued women staying at home more women would do it. And I think their kids and husbands would be happier too. Women who run their homes for a living are far from being slaves. I think that if boys would grow up respecting the role of a woman who stays at home he would encourage it and respect it. I feel like the media today is so focused on promoting women’s rights and gender equality they have lost sight of what is truly important in life. Maybe it is true women as a whole make less money than men. But do we honestly care? At the end of the day the woman’s real role is to raise her family and if she’s successful at that isn’t she the true winner? Why is this looked down upon in society? I think a woman is as free as she wants to be even if she is economically dependent on her husband. In my opinion she holds the power key in the home. She is the one, if her husband respects her, who makes all the real decisions.

Lastly, I believe that it is good for us, as a society, to separate the roles of men and women. I think women are naturally more warm and sensitive and are better care takers than men. There is a biological difference and because of this I think women are meant to be the caregivers and men are meant to go out and work. Society has created ways through gender socialization to prep women for their roles and men for theirs. For generations we have differentiated between men and women and never until theses feminists ideas have women complained. I think were only hurting ourselves in the end by trying to change how men and women are viewed. This system has worked for hundreds of years why try and change it because we live in the twenty first century?

The Division of Labor in Societies

Emile Durkheim focused on what held societies and social groups together.  In Durkheim’s The Division of Labor in Society (1893) explains how individuals and society are affected by division of labor as a whole.  Smaller societies have mechanical solidarity where everyone is feeling and doing the same thing.  Large and developed societies have organic solidarity where everyone may have different tasks but understand their task is for the good of the whole.  Durkheim also explains in order for division of labor to produce solidarity in a society, the task has to be fitting to each person; and personality develops from each completing a different task.  Most importantly according to Durkheim, the division of labor becomes the foundation of the moral order since the division of labor is the chief source of social solidarity.

It would be comforting to think solidarity in a large society such as the American society would be as close as a smaller society but the American society has become too individualistic today for people to view themselves as interdependent with each other.  Some citizens certainly do see their job or career as helping the whole but others are money driven.  To produce solidarity in a large society it would help if each job or career is fitting to each person.  If each job is fitting to each person than people can feel more fulfilled in life and feel they are making a contribution.  If a person chooses a task that is fitting to them, their personality is already developed.  A career could certainly enhance a personality from experiences in that career but not develop personality in its entirety.  For example a person who chooses to pursue a career as a lawyer has to have the motivation to complete the schooling and have an analytical mind.  Then their experiences as a lawyer will mold their personality further.  Most importantly, the division of labor is the foundation of moral order because it gives everyone a purpose.  Holding a job or career takes responsibility.  A criminal record can interfere with the career of choice or result in the loss of a career.  People will follow laws to hold their jobs to provide for their families.