In an effort to best understand the concepts of individual and society, this essay will look at Durkheim’s arguments on the relationship between the two together with the arguments of other scholars. The concepts of social institutions, solidarity, latent and manifest functions, anomie and Parsons action theory will be critically analyzed together with their relevance in understanding the concepts of individuals and societies.
According to (Durkheim 123) societies consist of small units structured in a manner that sustains social order. These units define the culture and norms which determine how individuals in these societies act and behave. These units are also referred to as social institutions and they include social structures governed by a given set of rules. He goes further to argue that these structures are necessary to tame man’s insatiable desires. Without structures to control his desires, social order cannot be achieved or maintained. Every man would set out to pursue his different interest and conflicts would most likely occur. This does not mean that the present society is rid of conflicts. It means that the social norms and cultures reinforced by social institutions have lessened conflicts by defining the role of individual in society and what is expected of them by society.
To best understand the concepts of individuals and society, it is vital to interrogate the concept of solidarity as discussed by Durkheim. Labor is an integer part of maintaining stable relationships in society. Through work, social interaction is fostered between individuals and a sense of common belonging is ensured. Through labour, societies are able to achieve a sustainable state of stability. Despite the difference in the types of societies, the role of labor is an integral part of defining how much an individual is attached to his society. He introduces