Social disintegration  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Social disintegration is the tendency for society to decline or disintegrate over time, perhaps due to the lapse or breakdown of traditional social support systems. In this context, "society" refers to the social order which maintains a society, rather than the political order that defines its boundaries. Society in the sociological sense is not the same as a country.

The theoretical origins of this idea lie with Emile Durkheim and Ferdinand Toennies. For both researchers one can see a division into two types of social integration corresponding to two historical phases. First there is a primitive integration based on likeness and intimate interaction, which Durkheim called mechanical solidarity and Toennies labelled Gemeinschaft. Second, there is a more complex and modern integration based on abstracted interdependence, which is known as organic solidarity or Gesellschaft.

Those who espouse social disintegration beliefs tend to doubt the integrative capacity of organic solidarity, claiming that if it is not based on primordial ties and relationships, it is fabricated. On the other hand, optimists might argue that new complex forms of integration can emerge, for example through new communal forms of identity formation or through economic interdependence.


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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Social disintegration" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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