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Mechanical Solidarity: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:03 Definition of…
  • 0:41 Overview of Societal…
  • 2:09 Mechanical vs. Organic…
  • 3:08 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

Did you know that mechanical solidarity is common among pre-industrial societies? In this lesson, we'll learn all about mechanical solidarity, how it differs from organic solidarity, and more.

Definition of Mechanical Solidarity

Mechanical solidarity is when a society is maintained by the similarities of its members. But, what does this really mean? Let's look at an example.

Ari was born and raised in a small village in Indonesia. Ari, like everyone else in her community, grows and maintains crops. Each member of the community works for 10 hours each day. The members of the village are all alike in many ways. For example, they all hold the same values and beliefs, all of their children attend the same school, eat the same food, and they all follow the village's customs. Ari's community is an example of mechanical solidarity.

Overview of Societal Solidarity

Sociologist Émile Durkheim wrote The Division of Labor in 1893. In this work, Durkheim identifies two types of societal solidarity. Durkheim uses the term solidarity to refer to the things that keep a society together. Organic solidarity refers to solidarity that results from the division of labor, which makes the members of the society highly dependent upon each other. In contrast, there is no division of labor in mechanical solidarity, nor are society's members highly dependent upon each other.

All of the individuals in a society that is maintained due to mechanical solidarity share similar characteristics. They perform the same jobs, so one worker could easily take the place of another. Members of mechanical solidarity society have the same core beliefs, educational background and world views, and they live similar lives. It is because of their similarities that the society is able to stay together. Mechanical solidarity is prevalent in pre-industrial societies.

The traditional hunter-gather society is a case of mechanical solidarity. The members of the hunter-gather societies were all foragers that lived in small communities, had similar beliefs, education, and customs.

The Inuit, a group of indigenous people who live in the Arctic regions, are also an example of mechanical solidarity. Like hunter-gatherers, the Inuit also have similar world views, education, traditions, etc.

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