Durkheim refers to mechanical solidarity resulting from the structural and cultural sameness that defines traditional societies’ social interactions and beliefs. Social bonds are created and maintained chiefly mechanically as they are included in the community’s basic structure. It is specific to create social cohesiveness when community members have overlapping social links, comparative family histories, vocations, experiences, and beliefs.
Mechanical solidarity is sui generis or generated naturally in the course of events based on individual similarities. It firmly connects them to society. These shared experiences of similar people in a society have given birth to this kind of solidarity. It is the social integration of people who share the same values and beliefs within society.
Mechanical solidarity is characterized by a segmented system in which each component participates in the social structure and is homogeneous. As a result, society is separated into relatively narrow spaces that enclose each person. Clans, typically present in less advanced societies, served as the initial foundation of the segmental society. However, when segmental features evolved, they could not remain limited to this one trait and began to spread out along the borders of territories. As a result, society was divided not only based on real or imagined consanguinity but also on a geographical basis.
Low interconnectedness is a defining characteristic of the segmental social structure. Almost little impact is felt from what happens in one part on the others. The segmental social system has a relatively minor moral and material density volume. This indicates that only specific individuals engage with one another (volume). Additionally, it implies that the frequency of human interaction is constrained (density). Because what one can accomplish, the other can do as well. As a result, he is not dependent upon others until additional workers are required. A fellow can do any task by himself, whether cutting a piece of wood, catching a bird, or picking fruit from a tree in a forest. People function in the same way as a result. Their interdependence is minimal, considering their similarities. Their level of density with one another is relatively modest.
The issue of what types of custom govern and supervise the circumstances of persons connected in mechanical solidarity then emerges. To respond, Durkheim invokes the collective conscience. Collective consciousness results from the homogeneity of experience. This results in widespread beliefs and customs. Such a society is closer to primitive communism due to its social structure, which combines religion with economic institutions. Most items are common, the experiences are comparable, and the rules and laws apply to everyday life. Laws and customs safeguard the group’s feelings and material possessions. A wrongdoer is therefore punished by the collective, which is the essence of laws. Repressive or punitive legislation is a sign of mechanical solidarity. The amount of social relationships governed and managed by collective conscience directly relates to the legal consequences obtained from the criminal system. When a group commits a mistake, it gets penalized. Punishment has two effects: it promotes societal beliefs and ideals while also being punishment is delivered to the individual. Any wrongdoing hurts the collective feelings; every punishment restores the collective’s power.
Collective conscience under mechanical solidarity at the cultural and ideological level
According to Durkheim, collective consciousness refers to a collection of beliefs and practices that, on the whole, are prevalent in society and constitute a fixed system with a distinct way of life. There is a collective consciousness in society, and it is simple to distinguish between people who relate to its form and those who relate to its content.
Collective Conscience: Forms as the Foundation
According to Durkheim, the strength of social ties is a characteristic of mechanical solidarity and depends on three factors. As follows:
A. The relationship between the volume of the collective conscience and the individual’s conscience
B. the average intensity of the phases of collective consciousness
C. the level of firmness at which each stage is present.
The likelihood of an individual’s freedom decreases as more beliefs and restrictions are ingrained in society. Therefore, there is a solid and broad collective consciousness when mechanical solidarity is effective. It significantly improves interactions between individuals and their activities. However, it is challenging to discern between an individual’s conscience and the group’s conscience in such a societal context. Therefore, collective authority—whether it encompasses the whole community or only the community chief—becomes the method of totality.
Considering the Contents, the Collective Conscience
There are identifiable aspects of the collective conscience’s content, but its essence is primarily entrenched in society. It is thus because social structures are governed by norms and laws that all of the society’s participants agree upon.
In fact, throughout the ancient age, religion permeated every area of society, and everything social was also religious. Religious and social were used interchangeably in prehistoric societies. The foundation of superhuman characteristics was firmly ingrained in the nature of conscience. The latter’s social and collective traits were seen as transcendental virtues. People were elevated even above their own conscience by these social settings. The phases of the collective consciousness were linked explicitly to traditional (local) circumstances, connecting the person to tremendous natural forces like the sun, moon, and clouds, as well as animals, trees, and many other natural forces. People have long connected themselves to such things. These circumstances similarly impact every person’s conscience. As a result, the union of the individual’s consciousness with the community reveals its shape and purpose. It may be claimed that many primitive societies are where collective consciousness develops its own qualities.
Traditional societies, also known as pre-industrial or agrarian societies and communities, tend to be defined by sameness or by the similarities among individuals.
Because individuals in traditional societies have a lot in common, sustaining social links and relationships or bonds of social solidarity is relatively simple. The same people and families tend to remain in the exact location and work in similar jobs for numerous generations when there isn’t the geographic and professional mobility that industrialization requires. The same may be said about ethnicity, political and religious beliefs, and culture.
In traditional communities, individuals interact with one another in various overlapping situations during their daily or weekly routines. For example, they may gather at the same one or two churches, restaurants, etc. It’s the kind of society or community where everyone essentially knows everyone else; even if they don’t directly know them, they are aware of their identity and that of their mother or brother.
Family, school, job, and leisure are all intertwined spheres of social interaction. Maintaining social solidarity in traditional communities with overlapping ties doesn’t take much work. According to Durkheim, the closer together the members of a society are, the more they keep intimate relationships with each other or with the group as a whole. Since if they just occasionally got together, their dependence on one another would be irregular and minimal.