Society consists of collective representations, this refers to beliefs and values that are shared by members of a specific social group.
These all have a common and shared meaning that reflect the history of a social group and the experiences they have endured over a certain period of time. French sociologist Emile Durkheim was interested in what holds society together when it is made up of people who have different roles and responsibilities.He is often credited as being the “founding father of sociogoly”. His work looked at the rules of socological methods, ethics and civic morals and he focused strongly on the division of labour. He is associated with functionalism, where he believes all social structures serve a function because they maintain order and stability in society.Durkheim also talks about solidarity, in which individuals have a connection with a group and the closer the group, the more solidarity exists. This leads to bonds in social groups and an overall better understanding of what is going on.
When there is group structure that is jeopardised this results in a feeling of disconnect between the people. Consequently, it is common for individuals to suffer from anomie which is a sense of normalness. We look at what society is telling us what we can do/what is acceptable and what we cannot. This addresses the question of how we are influenced as individuals and how we influence those around us, as a result of this we look at how people in society and different cultures end up influencing each other, that said our behaviours are significiantly shaped. Durkheim sees this external pressure and and looks at how we deal with this power.
The individual is able to recogonise and ackowledge that something exists outself of himself/herself. Durkheim witnesses this and introduces the idea that there is an external exerting coercive power on the individual who with this in mind will internalise it. This for Durkheim is the collective conscious.Durkheim lived through extensive, rapid transformation in France we witnessed first hand a predominately agriculture industry adapt to a new central inner-city industrial economy.
He wanted to provide and implement a logical and anthropolicial base for the French Republic. Another key thing to remember is that he did this in mind with hopefully paving the way forward for contemporary and progressive political and social development. It was not until he was 35 that the sociogolist published his first major work “The Division of Labour in Society”, this is where he first introduces the concept of anomie, which is defined as “the lack of usual social or ethical standards in an individual of group”, which refers to the breakdown of the influence and signifance of social norms on individuals within a society.Social norms are established unwritten rules and standards of accepted behaviour that are maintained in a society, norms help guide how people behaviour in everyday life. Social norms are most noticeable when they are not followed, individuals who do not follow these norms are subject to consequences such as unwanted attention and pressure from peers to change their ways. These norms influence our behaviour around people but also subconsciously set high expectations for how we approach certain social situations, they provide order in society. It is hard to imagine a world without social norms.
Values are collective beliefs shared by individuals about what they consider to be good, bad, desirable and undesirable. These values can influence people’s behaviour and attitudes towards something and also act as a guideline.Positive contributions to social solidarity would be that social norms and values give a sense of belonging to individuals. Through primary socialisation children are able to learn social norms and how to interact with others, this is usually influenced by any adult figure in their life.
Secondary socialisation occurs mostly in teenagers where they are increasing becoming influenced by their peers and stronger authorities figures around them. It is here where they begin to get a sense of belonging, this is most common in secondary schools, college and later continues to the workplace. Adolescents who viewed peer groups memberships as very important to them and had a positive sense of peer group belonging had significantly fewer behaviour problems than those who viewed peer groups membership as very important but did not have a positive sense of peer group belonging (Bm and al, 2010).We place a lot of importance on peer group membership in society but it also can contribute negatively to society when individuals feel they do not have a sense of belonging in their community. This leads to individuals questioning their social identity and involving themselves in crime by changeling social norms and values.
By doing this they are aware of the emphasis put on values and norms and they are deliberating breaking them. Deviance is defined as the violation of cultural norms. These actions are not seen as rational, these individuals are portrayed as offenders in organised crimes. Rationality is an informative guise that tells people what they should do to achieve their ends as well as possible (Elster 1991). Unstable family relationships undermine the effectiveness of the family as an institution most involved in conventional socialisation which entails the learning and values and attitudes that are negative towards violence, and the ability of families to reward conformity and punish deviance. It also reduces the families influence of counterbalancing the violent influence of peers and other groups in society through association and reinforcement (Akers 2003).
Solidarity produces ‘selves’ that belong to communities. These constructed rather than given commonalities and group identities emerge from social practices, or rituals, that yield powerful emotions and (re-)affirm social cohesion. Solidarity produces, in the words of Durkheim, collective representations and so functions as an existential resource.(jstor). For Durkheim, religion is characterised into the collective mind of the group, this is defined as the collective conscience. Unlike the individual conscience, the collective conscious is generally seen as traditional where beliefs and morals are passed down through generations by social norms.
Religious representations are collective representations which express collective realities; the rites are a manner of acting which take rise in the midst of the assembled groups and which are destined to excite, maintain or recreate certain mental states in these groups (Hein,2016). Durkheimian thought offers a comprehensive viewpoint of religion according to the collective consciousness. Religion is centred around the agreement and acceptance of common beliefs and values in a community, this then translates to the engagement of common practises in the community. Generally this is not seen as progressive and is subjected to a black and view viewpoint on moral issues.