Abstract: Societies have been increasingly disintegrating, despite improving prerequisites for social integration. For Durkheim, the society integrates in a mechanical and in an organic way. Individuals in their interactions gradually habituate new rules. These are institutionalised into system structures and so integrate society mechanically from the bottom up. When new rules are imposed they restrict behaviours from the top down. Structuralist explanation (Giddens) is circular and does not err in a description of a process that is circular in nature. However, it fails to explain what connects mechanic and organic integration, where they meet and how they really produce the integrative result.
In an attempt to fill this gap, integration problem is the first reorganised from dual to triadic concept. This is needed to accommodate the problem in a mesoscopic context. Meso is the perspective from where the modelling of social processes is the most tractable “a priori” (Easterling, Kok, 2002). The case is illustrated with evaluation of the national energy program’s impact on the territorial cohesion of Slovenia. Three measures of social integration are derived. A strong balance is a measure of the mechanical integration which controls for system’s stability between its internal oppositions. Weak cohesion is a correlative measure of organic integration and reflects sustainability of cooperative achievements in the society.
In social research, the relative comparisons are often more expressive than absolute ones. So it makes sense also to distinguish when cooperation achievements are due to the one-sided and alienated efforts, like on the market, or by altruist, from situations when they results from shared and mutually beneficial contributions of all parties involved. The balanced cohesion appears more productive for social integration compared to asymmetrically achieved cohesion with winners and losers on ever perfecting market. So the third component of social integration is weak balance which describes mutuality of organic relations. Circular interpretation is not rejected here. We only propose it is conceptualised in a triadic frame with a central meso category, which is of soft logic, intermediary by its function but radical in its transformative consequences.
Bojan Radej ( [email protected]), Mojca Golobič, forcomming in May 2013