Food for Thought: Functionalism in a Liquid Modern World

Pavlich (2011) provides an overview of Durkheim’s theory of law, with an emphasis on the links between repressive and restitutive forms of law and mechanical and organic forms of solidarity. For Durkheim, there are essential links between law, morality, and the division of labour in a given society at a given point in time. Put differently, we could say that Durkheim encourages us to appreciate context.

Consider our current socio-historical context. We live in what many sociologists (ex. Giddens) describe as ‘late modernity’ or ‘liquid modernity’ (ex. Bauman) . Liquid modernity is characterized by (among other things) interconnectedness, global flows of capital and commodities, increased diversity, and increasing – perhaps pervasive – uncertainty.

For this week’s Food for Thought question, I would like to think about whether and to what extent Durkheim’s ideas about law, the division of labour in society, and social solidarity are applicable in the context of late modernity.

Food for thought:

Write a post that:

  • Begins by briefly outlining the characteristics of ‘late modernity’ or ‘liquid modernity’. You will need to do some research. I recommend the works of Anthony Giddens, Jock Young, and Zygmunt Bauman. Your overview does not have to be too long – just long enough to give your reader a general sense of the concept. You should use hyperlinks to point your readers towards useful resources for further reading.
  • Answers the following question: What is the role of penal (repressive) law in a context of late / liquid modernity? Does it / can it function to foster social solidarity, as envisioned by Durkheim? Explain your response.
  • Answers the following question: What is the role of restitutive law in a context of late / liquid modernity? Does it / can it function to foster social solidarity, as envisioned by Durkheim? Explain your response.

Your response should give equal attention to each of the above components.

To further clarify, I would like us to think about whether Durkheim’s ideas about law and society can be said to ‘work’ in the context of an interconnected, globalized world.

Feel free to contact me with questions about this food for thought post. It may look abstract and challenging at first, but I think it will be really interesting once you get started.

Posts written in response to this food for thought question must be submitted before the start of class on October 7.

 

 

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