According to Georg Simmel (1858-1918), the inability to actually know another person creates the condition for social relations. Society has created categories, type, or generalizations to facilitate social interaction. For example, when a student talks to a teacher, the student relies on a generalized concept or image of teachers. But the role of “teacher” doesn’t tell us much about the person who plays that role.
Economic production exacts a specialisation of aptitudes. If this specialisation were fully developed in accordance with the logically inevitable although unexpressed wish of economists, we should have as many distinct human species as there are miners, farmers, weavers, lawyers, physicians, etc. But, fortunately, the assured and undeniable preponderance of juridical relations prevents any excessive differentiation of workers. In fact, it is continually diminishing such distinctions.
The theory of the group mind was developed by Gabriel Tarde and taken up by Durkheim. The thesis that crowd behavior is not simply the
“Contemporary civilisation in England, America, France, in all modern countries, tends to diminish the intellectual difference, which was becoming more and more deep and far-reaching, between men and women by opening up most of men’s occupations to women and by letting the latter share in almost all the advantages of training and education of the former.”–Gabriel Tarde