In modern societies, he argued, the highly complex division of labor resulted in "organic" solidarity. Different specializations in employment and social roles created dependencies that tied people to one another, since people no longer could count on filling all of their needs by themselves. In "mechanical" societies, for example, subsistence farmers live in communities which are self-sufficient and knit together by a common heritage and common job. In modern "organic" societies, workers earn money, and must rely on other people who specialize in certain products (groceries, clothing, etc.) to meet their needs. The result of increasing division of labor, according to Durkheim, is that individual consciousness emerges distinct from collective consciousness—often finding itself in conflict with collective consciousness.
The two theorists could not have been more different in the paths they charted for sociology. Durkheim was strongly influenced in his early years by the evolutionary perspective of Herbert Spencer. Subsequently, he came to share a number of the defining premises of Henri Bergson's model of cultural evolution, as well as certain aspects of the scientific naturalism of another contemporary: the American philosopher, John Dewey. 1 And above all, he was an intellectual descendant of Comte and Condorcet. Weber owed much of his approach to the neo-Kantian philosophy of his day as spelled out by Heinrich Rickert and Edmund Husserl 2 -- and to the Romantic Idealism of Johann Fische and Friedrich Schelling. Weber despised the naturalistic monism to which Durkheim dedicated his life, equating it to Nietzsche's version of Social Darwinism: the one aspect of the latter's philosophy which he could not abide. He once referred to the "unfortunate" fact that "despite the powerful resistance to the influence of naturalistic dogma due to German idealism since Fichte...the naturalistic viewpoint...has not yet been overcome". 3