Introducing Western Sociologists

Introducing Western Sociologists

Question

Show with examples how moral codls are indicators of social solidarity.

Answer
(i) Moral codes are imposed by collective agreement : (a) For Durkheim the social was to be found in the codes of conduct imposed on individuals by collective agreement. It was evident in the practices of everyday life.

(b) The scientific understanding of society that Durkheim sought to develop was based on the recognition of moral facts. He wrote, ‘Moral facts are phenomena like others; they consist of rules of action recognizable by certain distinctive characteristics, it must then be possible to observe them, describe them, classify them and look for certain laws explaining them.

(ii) According to Emile Durkheim : The moral codes were the key characteristics of a society that determined the behaviour patterns of individuals. Coming from a religious family. Durkheim cherished the idea of developing a secular understanding of religion. It was in his last book. The Elementary Forms of Religious Life that he was finally able to fulfil this wish.

(iii) Social fact existed as moral community : Society was for Durkheim a social fact which existed as a moral community over and above the individual. The ties that bound people in groups were crucial to the existence of society. These ties or social solidarities exerted pressure on individuals to conform to the norms and expectations of the group. This constrained the individual’s behaviour pattern, limiting variation within a small range.

(iv) Moral conduct codes were manifestations of particular social conditions : Moral codes were manifestations of particular social conditions. Hence the morally appropriate for one society was inappropriate for another. So for Durkheim, the prevailing social conditions could be deduced from the moral codes. This made sociology akin to the natural sciences and was in keeping with his larger objective of establishing sociology as a rigorous scientific discipline.

(v) Due to the moral code, behaviour can be predicted : Construction of choice in social action meant that behaviour could now be predicted as it followed a pattern. So by observing behaviour patterns it was possible to identify the norms, codes and social solidarities which governed them. Thus, the existence of otherwise ‘in\ isible’ thinks like ideas, norms, values and so on could be empirically verified by studying the patterns of social behaviour of the people as they related to each other in a society.

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