Solidarity is an awareness of shared interests that result in a psychological unity of groups or classes. According to Durkheim the two categories of social solidarity are mechanical solidarity and organic solidarity. Mechanical solidarity comes from the peoples’ feelings of connectedness through their shared interests such as religion, education, work, or even lifestyle (Routledge, 2016). It is associated with “traditional societies.” On the other hand, organic solidarity is associated with modern societies which exhibit specialization of work and individualism (Crossman, 2019). Both the video and the article discuss the social problem in Japan with regards to population growth and reproduction.
Understanding situation in Japan through the concepts of Mechanical and Organic Solidarity
The situation discussed in the both the article and video is that Japan’s population is quickly deteriorating with the majority of the population being the ageing population. The writer of the article is concerned that the young people are not getting married. In fact, most of them are not even in relationships and are virgins.
This Japanese situation can be understood through the concepts of mechanical and organic solidarity since the problem affects a large part of the population. According to the cultural dimensions by Hofstede, Japan is categorized as a collective society (not individualistic), a masculine society, and known for having a culture of restraint (Hofstede Insights, 2019). The restraint explains why most men and women are virgins. Being a collective society which easily influence each other, it seems that the statistics will keep increasing in spite of the incentives promised by the government. Durkheim would see the situation as of social solidarity not to have children until they are ready for the responsibility.
However, I find that unlike Durkheim’s view that mechanical solidarity is usually found in traditional societies whereas the organic societies are found in modern, sophisticated societies; the Japan situation has been caused by factors that currently affect the whole world. For instance, one of the reasons given for young people not getting married was the gap between the “reality” and “ideal” about marriage (Tharoor, 2016). They are right because most times these people have seen their friends get married and it did not turn out as they expected. This is not just a Japanese problem, but a worldwide challenge experienced by many today.
Besides, the decision to have children or not and whether to get married or not is a personal decision. The UNHCR promotes personal freedoms as an essential part of the human rights. Thus, the Japanese society is unable to force such personal decisions on its people. Enticing them with tax incentives and provision of child care financial resources could be exciting as most millennials are concerned about their financial obligations in marriage. However, one cannot be certain that it will prompt the required action from them.
My opinion is that the mechanical and organic solidarity are not easily delineated as they can both occur in the same context where some people embrace individualism while others enjoy collectivism. Besides, it is possible for a society to move from organic to mechanical solidarity; but not easily as it would mean a complete change of the systems and people’s beliefs.
The Japanese situation discussed in the article and video can be partly explained by Durkheim’s mechanical and organic solidarity views; but not entirely.
Crossman, Ashley. Understanding Durkheim’s ‘Division of Labor in Society. ThoughtCo. Retrieved on 7th November, 2019 from https://www.thoughtco.com/mechanical- solidarity-3026761
Routledge. Social Solidarity. Retrieved on 7th November, 2019 from http://routledgesoc.com/category/profile-tags/social-solidarity , 2016.
Tharoor, Ishaan. Japan Has a Worrying Number of Virgins, Government Finds. The Washington Post. Retrieved on 7th November, 2019 from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/09/16/japan-has-a- worrying-number-of-virgins-government-finds/ , 2016.
Hofstede Insights. Country Comparison. Retrieved on 7th November, 2019 from https://www.hofstede-insights.com/country-comparison/japan/ , 2019.