The Echoes of the Mind (158-4) Solidarity


In contrast to mechanical solidarity, organic (contractual) solidarity is the means of societal adhesion among peoples with differentiated lives. Division of labor begets economic interdependence. While individuals do not rely upon each other to have shared folkways or even values, their material reliance creates a facile unity.

With industrialization arose societies held together solely by contractual solidarity. Earlier task and class-differentiated societies, such as those during the age of European manorialism, retained some sense of mechanical solidarity, as their mores were shared.

Ferdinand Tönnies analyzed the fundamental historical shifts in societal adhesion. He termed village life, where everyone knows everyone else: gemeinshaft (intimate community). Contrastingly, the society that was emerging in Tönnies’ time was of short-term relationships, individualism, and self-interest: gesellschaft (impersonal association). This is one effect that industrialization has on society.

As societies change, so do people’s orientations to life. ~ James Henslin