Diversity v Solidarity

One of Emile Durkheim’s primary theories about society was that, although societies would advance themselves in various ways through the Division of Labor, they would also develop too much diversity – which would lead to a lack of integrity in the social structure.  Problems caused by too much diversity could be argued as reflected by language or cultural barriers in industrialized countries with multiple groups of immigrants.  Britain is an example of this type of country.  This article addresses the issue of diversity, although it addresses the problem on a scale more economic than cultural: http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/features/too-diverse-david-goodhart-multiculturalism-britain-immigration-globalisation This article is addressing the ‘problem’ of diversity from the perspective of the British political progressive; specifically, what is implied to be an inherent conflict between diversity and solidarity.  The argument follows that the desire of the British state to be economically progressive, in this context through socioeconomic welfare programs, is not as simple in a diverse society as it is in a homogeneous society.  The problem arises from the desire to maintain solidarity (which almost requires homogeneity of cultural values) alongside the ethnic and cultural diversity that already exists within England.  If there is to be a program such as welfare, then the separate (and possibly opposing) values may lead individuals to buck the system.  This article also supports Durkheim’s theory of Division of Labor, in that the waves of immigration into England over the past sixty years have caused separations of more than just class and region, as was previously the case, but also separations of labor movements, which it states are weaker in the presence of ‘significant religious or ethnic divisions’.  This can also be witnessed in America, where there is a limited welfare state, but still disapproval of its existence.  The basis for this objection may be founded in the high levels of sociocultural diversity within the nation, and the aforementioned accompanying barriers of language and cultural values.

2 thoughts on “Diversity v Solidarity”

  1. I really enjoy that you picked up on the language as a diversity difference. I’m not sure I had really considered how dangerous too many languages could be to a society, and frankly I’m a little in awe of the idea. Language, to me, seems like the ultimate difference, that would prevent humans from doing as Durkheim says, making connections. While I can appreciate that people who don’t speak the same language can to some extent communicate, but it would not do good things for a culture, especially one like ours that depends so intensely on our ability to communicate quickly and efficiently- I can only imagine a TV that needed to be translated into 9 languages to make the news understandable, it would be so frustrating!

    1. If you look at Europe, though, the close proximity all of those countries actually results quite often in the mastery of multiple languages. Many Scandinavians are trilingual. I would think such diversity increases the awareness and understanding of other cultures and thus encourage more international connectivity. It would be interesting to study the health of European nations as compared to the United States. I for one am under the impression that knowing multiple languages is good for your brain. I feel like in the United States, we are in more danger of over homogenization rather than diversification.

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