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The Division of Labor in Society Paperback – 1969


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: The Free Press; SEVENTH PRINTING edition (1969)
  • ASIN: B000Q7PXSG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,924,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By not a natural on May 26, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Durkheim is sometimes characterized as "the sociologist of constraint," meaning that, as he saw it, an unregulated life is devoid of meaning and a source of misery. In a very limited way, one might argue that Durkheim, in contrast to Marx, held that man does have a rudimentary nature, at least in terms of social and cultural needs. People need norms, standards, and social ties to provide them with direction, purpose, knowledge of realistic limits, and a sense of belonging. This is one reason for Durkheim's life-long interest in religion as a social phenomenon. His emphasis on constraint and stability also helps explain why he is commonly regarded as a conservative.

Durkheim was less optimistic than Marx with regard to prospects for the variegated development of human potential. While Marx envisioned opportunities for people to develop a broad range of talents in a self-actualizing way, Durkheim was more cautious. His emphasis on an evermore complex division of labor characterized by increasingly narrow specialization held his expectations in check.

At the same time, however, Durkheim was convinced that a more complex division of labor and the organic solidarity it occasioned enabled individuals to become more independent and self-determining. As with Marx, however, Durkheim was aware that increasing specialization did not serve all interests equally well.

While Durkheim and Marx have more in common than is typically acknowledged, Durkheim did not view the antagonistic character of the capital-labor relationship as inevitable or basic to the structure of capitalist society.
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60 of 81 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
Durkheim's book must not be a big seller. This would explain why a new, better translation hasn't appeared. This present translation is, to put it bluntly, horrible. This is really a shame, as Durkheim's thesis is quite compelling (if not flawed).
On average, each page of text is missing about two dozen commas.
One example:
"Without the necessary act of satisfaction[,] what is called the moral consciousness could not be preserved."
Then there are the pedantic (and barely readable) constructions such as the following.
Halls's version:
"By this is explained why some acts have so frequently been held to be criminal..."
Revised:
"This explains why some acts have so frequently been held to be criminal..."?
Halls's version:
"Undoubtedly most of these are not harmful, for if they were, in such conditions the individual could not live."
Revised:
"Undoubtedly, most of these are not harmful; if they were, the individual could not live."
Finally, there are sentences that are so obfuscatory, I don't know how to fix them:
"In both cases the force shocked by the crime and that rejects it is thus the same." (I'm not kidding, this is one of Halls's actual sentences.)
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Ellis Godard on November 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
A classic in many ways, the Division of Labor is a great starting point for sociology - not because it's terribly sexy or interesting or even correct, but because it begins to lay out what sociology can do.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By C. Shaw on November 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
A unique thesis: the division of labor is morally cohesive, and inheritance of capital is the flaw of capitalism. It is a great counter-argument to Marx and communism. I read this book at the University of Chicago, and I can only hope other institutions also assign it; it is a must read for anybody interested in human interaction.

Although some people may not think this is important, I must also commend The Free Press for producing such a durable book. Many of my books wouldn't survive my travels and annotations as well as this one has.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
... The Halls translation is quite a good one. If we examine the Halls text and compare it to the "revisions" that the reviewer has posed, we find that the differences are not merely aesthetic, they are substantive. They change the meaning of the sentence, and therefore the nature and meaning of Durkheim's argument.
I think that this Durkheim's best work. As a warning, it is not easy; perhaps this is where the difficulty with the translation lies. But for anyone interested in sociological theory, this book is essential reading. The translation is the best out there.
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