Renowned for his nuanced understanding of modern social problems, Durkheim makes a distinction between late feudal/early capitalist societies studied by Marx and the newly emerging ones. In the latter the role of religion upon citizens is on the decline as more people have access to education. He coined several new concepts such as social facts, mechanical solidarity, organic solidarity, collective conscience, anomie, egoistic suicide, anomic suicide, etc. These concepts are related to one another and by understanding and identifying their manifestations in real-life, constructive social policies can be taken by governments. One concept of Durkheim that is of special significance to policy makers is one of Anomie, for it relates to cohesion and order within society. Good governments make sure that law and order are maintained in cities and towns across the country. In order to achieve high standards of law and order, all members of the society will have to accept common rules and norms. (Farrands & Worth, 2005, p.43)
Further according to Durkheim, this expression of solidarity is not all beneficial, for it means that individualism and individual consciousness will have to be suppressed for social solidarity. At the same time, an excess of individual expression will lead to breakdown in moral regulation of society and lead to anomie. Hence, in order for the Australian government to implement social security policies, the degree of anomie should be less. What is also to be ensured is that the conditions of solidarity achieved through strict law and order enforcement do not manifest in their extreme forms, namely, ‘mechanical solidarity’ and ‘organic solidarity’. Considering that Australian society is largely urbanized, the prevailing form of social cohesion can best be described as ‘organic solidarity’. For example, the high mobility of the population, racial and ethnic diversity, a developed division of labour, etc are all factors contributing to organic solidarity in Australia. One consequence of this is weak collective conscience. (Dillon, 2010, p.188)
It should be the focus and emphasis of policy makers in Australia to ensure that the prevailing weak collective conscience is suitably addressed and remedied. What this entails is setting up the doctrinal foundations for solidarity through the education system. Young people will have to be educated about their roles and responsibilities as members of civil society and hence put collective interests on par with individual interests.
“What we must do is to bring to life new groupings which are in harmony with the present day social order … But the only way of succeeding in this is to breathe life into the spirit of association. These groups can not be created by force. … It is precisely at this point that the role of the school can be considerable. … We have through the school the means of training the child in a collective life different from home life. … We have here an opportunity to take hold of the child at a time when the gaps in our social organization have not been able to alter his nature profoundly, or to arouse in him feelings which make him partially rebellious to common life … because of the critical situation in which we find ourselves, the services that the schools can render are of incomparable importance” (Durkheim, 2002: 235-6).