Who Is Known for the Theory of Social Cohesion?


Vincent White

Who Is Known for the Theory of Social Cohesion?

Social cohesion is an essential concept in sociology that refers to the level of connectedness and solidarity within a society. It examines the factors that bind individuals together and promote a sense of belonging and mutual support. One prominent figure known for their contributions to the theory of social cohesion is Emile Durkheim.

Emile Durkheim: The Father of Sociology

Emile Durkheim, a French sociologist, is widely regarded as one of the founding fathers of sociology. He made significant contributions to various sociological theories, including social cohesion. Born in 1858, Durkheim dedicated his life to understanding the intricate dynamics of society.

The Division of Labor in Society

In his seminal work “The Division of Labor in Society,” published in 1893, Durkheim explored the relationship between social cohesion and the division of labor. He argued that societies with a higher degree of specialization tend to have stronger social bonds. This is because individuals become more dependent on one another for their specific roles and functions within society.

Durkheim identified two types of social solidarity: mechanical solidarity and organic solidarity. Mechanical solidarity characterizes traditional societies where individuals share similar values, norms, and beliefs. In contrast, organic solidarity emerges in modern societies where people are interconnected through their interdependence on specialized tasks.

Social Integration

Durkheim also emphasized the importance of social integration in fostering social cohesion. He believed that individuals who feel connected to others are more likely to adhere to societal norms and values, leading to a cohesive society. Social integration can be achieved through various mechanisms such as shared rituals, moral education, and collective consciousness.

Contemporary Perspectives on Social Cohesion

While Durkheim laid the groundwork for understanding social cohesion, modern sociologists have expanded upon his theories and introduced new perspectives. Robert Putnam, an American political scientist, is known for his work on social capital and its impact on social cohesion.

Social Capital and Social Cohesion

Putnam argues that social capital, which refers to the networks of relationships and trust within a society, plays a crucial role in promoting social cohesion. He suggests that societies with higher levels of social capital tend to have stronger bonds between individuals and greater levels of cooperation.

Putnam’s research highlights the importance of civic engagement, such as participation in community organizations or volunteering, in building social capital. These activities not only strengthen interpersonal relationships but also foster a sense of shared identity and collective responsibility.

The Role of Government

Another contemporary perspective on social cohesion focuses on the role of government in promoting inclusivity and reducing inequalities. Governments can implement policies that address socioeconomic disparities, provide equal access to resources and opportunities, and ensure a fair distribution of wealth.

By creating an environment where everyone has a chance to thrive, governments can contribute to the development of a cohesive society where individuals feel valued and connected.


In conclusion, Emile Durkheim’s contributions to the theory of social cohesion have provided a solid foundation for understanding the dynamics of solidarity within societies. His exploration of the division of labor and social integration shed light on the factors that promote connectedness among individuals.

Furthermore, contemporary perspectives from scholars like Robert Putnam highlight the importance of social capital and government interventions in fostering social cohesion. By continuously studying and addressing these factors, we can strive towards creating more inclusive and cohesive societies.