Essay on Comparative Differences Between Industrial and Pre-Industrial Societies

The French sociologist Emile Durkheim in his book “Division of Labour in Society” [1893], distinguished societies based on two types of solidarity namely; (i) mechanical solidarity, and (ii) organic solidarity. The former one which corresponds to ‘pre-modern’ or traditional society serves as bonds of common activities and values.

Here the society is held together by the fact that people perform the same tasks and share similar values. The latter [organic solidarity], which corresponds to modern society serves as bonds based on interdependence. Here the society is held together by the fact that people are highly specialised and are, therefore, mutually dependent on one another.

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2. Ferdinand Tonnie’s Classification:

The German sociologist Ferdinand Tonnie’s used the labels Gemeinschaft [community] and Gesellschaft [association] to describe similar differences between societies.

Gemeinschaft type of society, Tonnie’s argued, is characterised by intimate, face-to-face contact, strong feelings of social solidarity, and a commitment to tradition. The Gesellschaft type of society is characterised by impersonal contacts, individualism rather than group loyalty, and a decline of the traditional ties and values.

3. Robert Redfield’s Classification:

American anthropologist Robert Redfield draws a distinction between “folk” and “urban” societies. Folk society is small and bound by tradition and intimate personal links. The urban society, on the contrary, represents a large scale social unit marked by impersonal relationships and a pluralism of values.

The classification mentioned above, make it evident that the same phenomena of the differences between the pre-modern and the modern, or the pre-industrial and the industrial societies are highlighted in several ways but in different words.


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