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In addition, he also sought to understand the relationship between religion as a social concept and government as a political entity. With respect to religion and governments, Durkheim noted that there has been a profound transition of solidarity from traditional times to modern times. Aside from transition of solidarity, Durkheim also became concerned with certain aspects of modern societies like division of labor, individualism and collective consciousness.
In his work, Durkheim asserts that contemporary sociology can be categorized into mechanical era and modern era. Division of sociology into these eras is based on facts indicating significant difference between communities and their practices in ancient and modern times. Correspondingly, each of these eras had a characteristic form of social solidarity. According to Durkheim, traditional or mechanical solidarity is characterized by extricable interaction between religion and state organs. As early as 140 BCE, religion occupied the central position in society, and the government was the main proponent of religious beliefs (Allan, 81). With the dawn of modernity, a substantial conflict between religion and government entities ensued. Evolution of new political ideologies like democracy and the economic concept of capitalism caused further separation between religious and governmental institutions.
Transition from mechanical solidarity to modern solidarity is not without apparent impacts in the society. Prior to modernity, government organs championed the concept of collective consciousness and performance of religious rituals. For example in ancient role, Christianity eventually became a state religion. Persecution of non Christians was sponsored by the state. As a result, individuals in the society adopted the use of symbols like crosses as a show of solidarity with the state religion. Durkheim says that mechanical solidarity was characterized by strong similarity in religious
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