Émile Durkheim

Émile Durkheim

Overview
David Émile Durkheim (April 15, 1858 – November 15, 1917) was a French sociologist. He formally established the academic discipline and, with Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 and Max Weber
Max Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber was a German sociologist and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself...

, is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science and father of sociology.

Much of Durkheim's work was concerned with how societies could maintain their integrity and coherence
Social integration
Social integration, in sociology and other social sciences, is the movement of minority groups such as ethnic minorities, refugees and underprivileged sections of a society into the mainstream of societies...

 in modernity
Modernity
Modernity typically refers to a post-traditional, post-medieval historical period, one marked by the move from feudalism toward capitalism, industrialization, secularization, rationalization, the nation-state and its constituent institutions and forms of surveillance...

; an era in which traditional social and religious ties are no longer assumed, and in which new social institutions have come into being.
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Encyclopedia
David Émile Durkheim (April 15, 1858 – November 15, 1917) was a French sociologist. He formally established the academic discipline and, with Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 and Max Weber
Max Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber was a German sociologist and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself...

, is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science and father of sociology.

Much of Durkheim's work was concerned with how societies could maintain their integrity and coherence
Social integration
Social integration, in sociology and other social sciences, is the movement of minority groups such as ethnic minorities, refugees and underprivileged sections of a society into the mainstream of societies...

 in modernity
Modernity
Modernity typically refers to a post-traditional, post-medieval historical period, one marked by the move from feudalism toward capitalism, industrialization, secularization, rationalization, the nation-state and its constituent institutions and forms of surveillance...

; an era in which traditional social and religious ties are no longer assumed, and in which new social institutions have come into being. His first major sociological work was The Division of Labor in Society (1893). In 1895, he published his Rules of the Sociological Method
Rules of the Sociological Method
The Rules of Sociological Method is a book by Émile Durkheim, first published in 1895. It is recognized as being the direct result of Durkheim's own project of establishing sociology as a positivist social science. Durkheim is seen as one of the fathers of sociology, and this work, his manifesto...

and set up the first European department of sociology, becoming France's first professor of sociology. In 1896, he established the journal L'Année Sociologique
L'Année Sociologique
L'Année Sociologique is a sociology journal founded in 1898 by Émile Durkheim, who also served as its editor. It was published annually until 1925, and returned to publication as Annales Sociologiques between 1934 and 1942...

. Durkheim's seminal monograph, Suicide
Suicide (book)
Suicide was one of the groundbreaking books in the field of sociology. Written by French sociologist Émile Durkheim and published in 1897 it was a case study of suicide, a publication unique for its time which provided an example of what the sociological...

(1897), a study of suicide
Suicide
Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair or attributed to some underlying mental disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse...

 rates amongst Catholic and Protestant populations, pioneered modern social research
Social research
Social research refers to research conducted by social scientists. Social research methods may be divided into two broad categories:* Quantitative designs approach social phenomena through quantifiable evidence, and often rely on statistical analysis of many cases to create valid and reliable...

 and served to distinguish social science from psychology
Psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

 and political philosophy
Political philosophy
Political philosophy is the study of such topics as liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of a legal code by authority: what they are, why they are needed, what, if anything, makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect and why, what form it...

. The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912), presented a theory of religion, comparing the social and cultural lives of aboriginal and modern societies.

Durkheim was also deeply preoccupied with the acceptance of sociology as a legitimate science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

. He refined the positivism
Positivism
Positivism is a a view of scientific methods and a philosophical approach, theory, or system based on the view that, in the social as well as natural sciences, sensory experiences and their logical and mathematical treatment are together the exclusive source of all worthwhile information....

 originally set forth by Auguste Comte
Auguste Comte
Isidore Auguste Marie François Xavier Comte , better known as Auguste Comte , was a French philosopher, a founder of the discipline of sociology and of the doctrine of positivism...

, promoting what could be considered as a form of epistemological realism
Philosophical realism
Contemporary philosophical realism is the belief that our reality, or some aspect of it, is ontologically independent of our conceptual schemes, linguistic practices, beliefs, etc....

, as well as the use of the hypothetico-deductive model
Hypothetico-deductive model
The hypothetico-deductive model or method, first so-named by William Whewell, is a proposed description of scientific method. According to it, scientific inquiry proceeds by formulating a hypothesis in a form that could conceivably be falsified by a test on observable data...

 in social science. For him, sociology was the science of institution
Institution
An institution is any structure or mechanism of social order and cooperation governing the behavior of a set of individuals within a given human community...

s, its aim being to discover structural social fact
Social fact
In sociology, social facts are the values, cultural norms, and social structures external to the individual and capable of exercising a constraint on that individual....

s. Durkheim was a major proponent of structural functionalism
Structural functionalism
Structural functionalism is a broad perspective in sociology and anthropology which sets out to interpret society as a structure with interrelated parts. Functionalism addresses society as a whole in terms of the function of its constituent elements; namely norms, customs, traditions and institutions...

, a foundational perspective in both sociology and anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

. In his view, social science should be purely holistic
Holism
Holism is the idea that all the properties of a given system cannot be determined or explained by its component parts alone...

; that is, sociology should study phenomena attributed to society at large, rather than being limited to the specific actions of individuals.

He remained a dominant force in French intellectual life until his death in 1917, presenting numerous lectures and published works on a variety of topics, including the sociology of knowledge
Sociology of knowledge
The Sociology of knowledge is the study of the relationship between human thought and the social context within which it arises, and of the effects prevailing ideas have on societies...

, morality
Morality
Morality is the differentiation among intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good and bad . A moral code is a system of morality and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code...

, social stratification
Social stratification
In sociology the social stratification is a concept of class, involving the "classification of persons into groups based on shared socio-economic conditions ... a relational set of inequalities with economic, social, political and ideological dimensions."...

, religion
Sociology of religion
The sociology of religion concerns the role of religion in society: practices, historical backgrounds, developments and universal themes. There is particular emphasis on the recurring role of religion in all societies and throughout recorded history...

, law
Sociology of law
The sociology of law is often described as a sub-discipline of sociology or an interdisciplinary approach within legal studies...

, education
Sociology of education
The sociology of education is the study of how public institutions and individual experiences affect education and its outcomes. It is most concerned with the public schooling systems of modern industrial societies, including the expansion of higher, further, adult, and continuing...

, and deviance
Deviance (sociology)
Deviance in a sociological context describes actions or behaviors that violate cultural norms including formally-enacted rules as well as informal violations of social norms...

. Durkheimian terms such as "collective consciousness
Collective consciousness
Collective consciousness was a term coined by the French sociologist Émile Durkheim to refer to the shared beliefs and moral attitudes which operate as a unifying force within society...

" have since entered the popular lexicon.

Childhood and education


Durkheim was born in Épinal
Épinal
Épinal is a commune in northeastern France and the capital of the Vosges department. Inhabitants are known as Spinaliens.-Geography:The commune has a land area of 59.24 km²...

 in Lorraine
Lorraine (région)
Lorraine is one of the 27 régions of France. The administrative region has two cities of equal importance, Metz and Nancy. Metz is considered to be the official capital since that is where the regional parliament is situated...

, coming from a long line of devout French Jews; his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had been rabbi
Rabbi
In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

s. He began his education in a rabbinical school, but at an early age, he decided not to follow in his family's rabbinical footsteps, and switched schools. Durkheim himself would lead a completely secular life. Much of his work was dedicated to demonstrating that religious phenomena stemmed from social rather than divine factors. While Durkheim chose not to follow in the family tradition, he did not sever ties with his family or with the Jewish community. Many of his most prominent collaborators and students were Jewish, and some were blood relations.

A precocious student, Durkheim entered the École Normale Supérieure
École Normale Supérieure
The École normale supérieure is one of the most prestigious French grandes écoles...

(ENS) in 1879, although he succeeded only in his third attempt. The entering class that year was one of the most brilliant of the nineteenth century and many of his classmates, such as Jean Jaurès
Jean Jaurès
Jean Léon Jaurès was a French Socialist leader. Initially an Opportunist Republican, he evolved into one of the first social democrats, becoming the leader, in 1902, of the French Socialist Party, which opposed Jules Guesde's revolutionary Socialist Party of France. Both parties merged in 1905 in...

 and Henri Bergson
Henri Bergson
Henri-Louis Bergson was a major French philosopher, influential especially in the first half of the 20th century. Bergson convinced many thinkers that immediate experience and intuition are more significant than rationalism and science for understanding reality.He was awarded the 1927 Nobel Prize...

 would go on to become major figures in France's intellectual history. At the ENS, Durkheim studied under the direction of Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges
Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges
Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges was a French historian.Born in Paris, of Breton descent, after studying at the École Normale Supérieure he was sent to the French School at Athens in 1853, he directed some excavations in Chios, and wrote an historical account of the island.After his return he filled...

, a classicist with a social scientific outlook, and wrote his Latin dissertation on Montesquieu
Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu
Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu , generally referred to as simply Montesquieu, was a French social commentator and political thinker who lived during the Enlightenment...

. At the same time, he read Auguste Comte
Auguste Comte
Isidore Auguste Marie François Xavier Comte , better known as Auguste Comte , was a French philosopher, a founder of the discipline of sociology and of the doctrine of positivism...

 and Herbert Spencer
Herbert Spencer
Herbert Spencer was an English philosopher, biologist, sociologist, and prominent classical liberal political theorist of the Victorian era....

. Thus Durkheim became interested in a scientific approach to society very early on in his career. This meant the first of many conflicts with the French academic system, which had no social science curriculum at the time. Durkheim found humanistic studies
Humanities
The humanities are academic disciplines that study the human condition, using methods that are primarily analytical, critical, or speculative, as distinguished from the mainly empirical approaches of the natural sciences....

 uninteresting, turning his attention from psychology
Psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

 and philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 to ethics
Ethics
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

 and eventually, sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

. He finished second to last in his graduating class when he aggregated
Agrégation
In France, the agrégation is a civil service competitive examination for some positions in the public education system. The laureates are known as agrégés...

 in philosophy in 1882.

There was no way that a man of Durkheim's views could receive a major academic appointment in Paris. From 1882 to 1887 he taught philosophy at several provincial schools. In 1885 he decided to leave for Germany, where for two years he studied sociology in Marburg
Marburg
Marburg is a city in the state of Hesse, Germany, on the River Lahn. It is the main town of the Marburg-Biedenkopf district and its population, as of March 2010, was 79,911.- Founding and early history :...

, Berlin and Leipzig
Leipzig
Leipzig Leipzig has always been a trade city, situated during the time of the Holy Roman Empire at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important trade routes. At one time, Leipzig was one of the major European centres of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing...

. As Durkheim indicated in several essays, it was in Leipzig that he learned to appreciate the value of empiricism
Empiricism
Empiricism is a theory of knowledge that asserts that knowledge comes only or primarily via sensory experience. One of several views of epistemology, the study of human knowledge, along with rationalism, idealism and historicism, empiricism emphasizes the role of experience and evidence,...

 and its language of concrete, complex things, in sharp contrast to the more abstract, clear and simple ideas of the Cartesian method
Cartesianism
Cartesian means of or relating to the French philosopher and mathematician René Descartes—from his name—Rene Des-Cartes. It may refer to:*Cartesian anxiety*Cartesian circle*Cartesian dualism...

. By 1886, as part of his doctoral dissertation, he had completed the draft of his The Division of Labor in Society, and was working towards establishing the new science of sociology.

Academic career


Durkheim's period in Germany resulted in the publication of numerous articles on German social science and philosophy; Durkheim was particularly impressed by the work of Wilhelm Wundt
Wilhelm Wundt
Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt was a German physician, psychologist, physiologist, philosopher, and professor, known today as one of the founding figures of modern psychology. He is widely regarded as the "father of experimental psychology"...

. Durkheim's articles gained recognition in France, and he received a teaching appointment in the University of Bordeaux
University of Bordeaux
University of Bordeaux is an association of higher education institutions in and around Bordeaux, France. Its current incarnation was established 21 March 2007. The group is the largest system of higher education schools in southwestern France. It is part of the Academy of Bordeaux.There are seven...

 in 1887, where he was to teach the university's first social science course. His official title was Chargé d'un Course de Science Social et de Pedagogie and thus he taught both pedagogy
Pedagogy
Pedagogy is the study of being a teacher or the process of teaching. The term generally refers to strategies of instruction, or a style of instruction....

 and sociology (the latter had never been taught in France before). The appointment of the social scientist to the mostly humanistic faculty was an important sign of the change of times, and the growing importance and recognition of the social sciences. From this position Durkheim helped reform the French school system and introduced the study of social science in its curriculum. However, his controversial beliefs that religion and morality could be explained in terms purely of social interaction earned him many critics.

Also in 1887, Durkheim married Louise Dreyfus. They would have two children, Marie and André.

The 1890s were a period of remarkable creative output for Durkheim. In 1892, he published The Division of Labour in Society
The Division of Labour in Society
The Division of Labor in Society is the dissertation of French sociologist Émile Durkheim, written in 1893. It was influential in advancing sociological theories and thought, with ideas which in turn were influenced by Auguste Comte...

, his doctoral dissertation and fundamental statement of the nature of human society and its development. Durkheim's interest in social phenomena was spurred on by politics. France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

 led to the fall of the regime of Napoleon III, which was then replaced by the Third Republic
French Third Republic
The French Third Republic was the republican government of France from 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed due to the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, to 1940, when France was overrun by Nazi Germany during World War II, resulting in the German and Italian occupations of France...

. This in turn resulted in a backlash against the new secular
Secularism
Secularism is the principle of separation between government institutions and the persons mandated to represent the State from religious institutions and religious dignitaries...

 and republican
Republicanism
Republicanism is the ideology of governing a nation as a republic, where the head of state is appointed by means other than heredity, often elections. The exact meaning of republicanism varies depending on the cultural and historical context...

 rule, as many people considered a vigorously nationalistic approach necessary to rejuvenate France's fading power. Durkheim, a Jew and a staunch supporter of the Third Republic with a sympathy towards socialism, was thus in the political minority, a situation which galvanized him politically. The Dreyfus affair
Dreyfus Affair
The Dreyfus affair was a political scandal that divided France in the 1890s and the early 1900s. It involved the conviction for treason in November 1894 of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a young French artillery officer of Alsatian Jewish descent...

 of 1894 only strengthened his activist stance.

In 1895, he published Rules of the Sociological Method
Rules of the Sociological Method
The Rules of Sociological Method is a book by Émile Durkheim, first published in 1895. It is recognized as being the direct result of Durkheim's own project of establishing sociology as a positivist social science. Durkheim is seen as one of the fathers of sociology, and this work, his manifesto...

, a manifesto
Manifesto
A manifesto is a public declaration of principles and intentions, often political in nature. Manifestos relating to religious belief are generally referred to as creeds. Manifestos may also be life stance-related.-Etymology:...

 stating what sociology is and how it ought to be done, and founded the first European department of sociology at the University of Bordeaux
University of Bordeaux
University of Bordeaux is an association of higher education institutions in and around Bordeaux, France. Its current incarnation was established 21 March 2007. The group is the largest system of higher education schools in southwestern France. It is part of the Academy of Bordeaux.There are seven...

. In 1898, he founded the L'Année Sociologique
L'Année Sociologique
L'Année Sociologique is a sociology journal founded in 1898 by Émile Durkheim, who also served as its editor. It was published annually until 1925, and returned to publication as Annales Sociologiques between 1934 and 1942...

, the first French social science journal. Its aim was to publish and publicize the work of what was, by then, a growing number of students and collaborators (this is also the name used to refer to the group of students who developed his sociological program). Durkheim was familiar with several foreign languages and reviewed academic papers in German, English, and Italian for the journal. In 1897, he published Suicide
Suicide (book)
Suicide was one of the groundbreaking books in the field of sociology. Written by French sociologist Émile Durkheim and published in 1897 it was a case study of suicide, a publication unique for its time which provided an example of what the sociological...

, a case study
Case study
A case study is an intensive analysis of an individual unit stressing developmental factors in relation to context. The case study is common in social sciences and life sciences. Case studies may be descriptive or explanatory. The latter type is used to explore causation in order to find...

 which provided an example of what the sociological monograph
Monograph
A monograph is a work of writing upon a single subject, usually by a single author.It is often a scholarly essay or learned treatise, and may be released in the manner of a book or journal article. It is by definition a single document that forms a complete text in itself...

 might look like. Durkheim was one of the pioneers of using quantitative methods in criminology
Quantitative methods in criminology
Since the inception of the discipline, quantitative methods have provided the primary research methods for studying the distribution and causes of crime. Quantitative methods provide numerous ways to obtain data that are useful to many aspects of society...

 during his suicide case study.

By 1902, Durkheim had finally achieved his goal of attaining a prominent position in Paris when he became the chair of education at the Sorbonne
University of Paris
The University of Paris was a university located in Paris, France and one of the earliest to be established in Europe. It was founded in the mid 12th century, and officially recognized as a university probably between 1160 and 1250...

. Durkheim aimed for the Parisian position earlier, but the Parisian faculty took longer to accept what some called "sociological imperialism" and admit social science to their curriculum. He became a full professor (Professor of the Science of Education) there in 1906, and in 1913 he was named Chair in "Education and Sociology". Because French universities are technically institutions for training secondary school teachers, this position gave Durkheim considerable influence—his lectures were the only ones that were mandatory for the entire student body. Durkheim had much influence over the new generation of teachers; around that time he also served as an advisor to the Ministry of Education. In 1912, he published his last major work, The Elementary Forms of The Religious Life
The Elementary Forms of The Religious Life
The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life , published by French sociologist Émile Durkheim in 1912, is a book that analyzes religion as a social phenomenon...

.
The outbreak of World War I was to have a tragic effect on Durkheim's life. His leftism
Left-wing politics
In politics, Left, left-wing and leftist generally refer to support for social change to create a more egalitarian society...

 was always patriotic rather than internationalist—he sought a secular, rational form of French life. But the coming of the war and the inevitable nationalist propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

 that followed made it difficult to sustain this already nuanced position. While Durkheim actively worked to support his country in the war, his reluctance to give in to simplistic nationalist fervor (combined with his Jewish background) made him a natural target of the now-ascendant French Right. Even more seriously, the generation of students that Durkheim had trained were now being drafted to serve in the army, and many of them perished in the trenches. Finally, Durkheim's own son, André, died on the war front in December 1915—a loss from which Durkheim never recovered. Emotionally devastated, Durkheim collapsed of a stroke
Stroke
A stroke, previously known medically as a cerebrovascular accident , is the rapidly developing loss of brain function due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. This can be due to ischemia caused by blockage , or a hemorrhage...

 in Paris in 1917. He was buried at the Montparnasse Cemetery
Montparnasse Cemetery
Montparnasse Cemetery is a cemetery in the Montparnasse quarter of Paris, part of the city's 14th arrondissement.-History:Created from three farms in 1824, the cemetery at Montparnasse was originally known as Le Cimetière du Sud. Cemeteries had been banned from Paris since the closure, owing to...

 in Paris.

Marcel Mauss
Marcel Mauss
Marcel Mauss was a French sociologist. The nephew of Émile Durkheim, Mauss' academic work traversed the boundaries between sociology and anthropology...

, a notable social anthropologist of the pre-war era, was his nephew.

Durkheim's thought


Throughout his career, Durkheim was concerned primarily with three goals. First, to establish sociology as a new academic discipline. Second, to analyze how societies could maintain their integrity and coherence in the modern era, when things such as shared religious and ethnic background could no longer be assumed; to that end he wrote much about the effect of laws, religion, education and similar forces on the society and social integration
Social integration
Social integration, in sociology and other social sciences, is the movement of minority groups such as ethnic minorities, refugees and underprivileged sections of a society into the mainstream of societies...

. Lastly, Durkheim was concerned with the practical implications of scientific knowledge. The importance of social integration is expressed throughout Durkheim's work:

Inspirations


Early on, during his university studies at the Ecole, Durkheim was influenced by two neo-Kantian scholars, Charles Bernard Renouvier
Charles Bernard Renouvier
Charles Bernard Renouvier was a French philosopher.-Biography:Charles B. Renouvier was born in Montpellier and educated in Paris at the École Polytechnique. He took an early interest in politics...

 and Émile Boutroux
Emile Boutroux
Étienne Émile Marie Boutroux was an eminent 19th century French philosopher of science and religion, and an historian of philosophy. He was a firm opponent of materialism in science. He was a spiritual philosopher who defended the idea that religion and science are compatible at a time when the...

. The principles Durkheim absorbed from the included rationalism
Rationalism
In epistemology and in its modern sense, rationalism is "any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification" . In more technical terms, it is a method or a theory "in which the criterion of the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive"...

, scientific study of morality, anti-utilitarianism
Utilitarianism
Utilitarianism is an ethical theory holding that the proper course of action is the one that maximizes the overall "happiness", by whatever means necessary. It is thus a form of consequentialism, meaning that the moral worth of an action is determined only by its resulting outcome, and that one can...

 and secular education. His methodology was influenced by Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges
Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges
Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges was a French historian.Born in Paris, of Breton descent, after studying at the École Normale Supérieure he was sent to the French School at Athens in 1853, he directed some excavations in Chios, and wrote an historical account of the island.After his return he filled...

, a supporter of the scientific method
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

.

A fundamental influence on Durkheim's thought was the sociological positivism of Auguste Comte
Auguste Comte
Isidore Auguste Marie François Xavier Comte , better known as Auguste Comte , was a French philosopher, a founder of the discipline of sociology and of the doctrine of positivism...

, who effectively sought to extend and apply the scientific method
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

 found in the natural science
Natural science
The natural sciences are branches of science that seek to elucidate the rules that govern the natural world by using empirical and scientific methods...

s to the social sciences. According to Comte, a true social science should stress for empirical facts, as well as induce
Inductive reasoning
Inductive reasoning, also known as induction or inductive logic, is a kind of reasoning that constructs or evaluates propositions that are abstractions of observations. It is commonly construed as a form of reasoning that makes generalizations based on individual instances...

 general scientific law
Scientific law
A scientific law is a statement that explains what something does in science just like Newton's law of universal gravitation. A scientific law must always apply under the same conditions, and implies a causal relationship between its elements. The law must be confirmed and broadly agreed upon...

s from the relationship among these facts. There were many points on which Durkheim agreed with the positivist thesis. First, he accepted that the study of society was to be founded on an examination of facts. Second, like Comte, he acknowledged that the only valid guide to objective knowledge was the scientific method. Third, he agreed with Comte that the social sciences could become scientific only when they were stripped of their metaphysical
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

 abstractions and philosophical speculation. At the same time, Durkheim believed that Comte was still too philosophical in his outlook.

A second influence on Durkheim's view of society beyond Comte's positivism was the epistemological outlook called social realism
Scientific realism
Scientific realism is, at the most general level, the view that the world described by science is the real world, as it is, independent of what we might take it to be...

. Although he never explicitly exposed it, Durkheim adopted a realist perspective in order to demonstrate the existence of social realities outside the individual and to show that these realities existed in the form of the objective relations of society. As an epistemology of science, realism can be defined as a perspective which takes as its central point of departure the view that external social realities exist in the outer world and that these realities are independent of the individual's perception
Subjectivity
Subjectivity refers to the subject and his or her perspective, feelings, beliefs, and desires. In philosophy, the term is usually contrasted with objectivity.-Qualia:...

 of them. This view opposes other predominant philosophical perspectives such as empiricism
Empiricism
Empiricism is a theory of knowledge that asserts that knowledge comes only or primarily via sensory experience. One of several views of epistemology, the study of human knowledge, along with rationalism, idealism and historicism, empiricism emphasizes the role of experience and evidence,...

 and positivism
Positivism
Positivism is a a view of scientific methods and a philosophical approach, theory, or system based on the view that, in the social as well as natural sciences, sensory experiences and their logical and mathematical treatment are together the exclusive source of all worthwhile information....

. Empiricists such as David Hume
David Hume
David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment...

 had argued that all realities in the outside world are products of human sense perception. According to empiricists, all realities are thus merely perceived: they do not exist independently of our perceptions, and have no causal power in themselves. Comte's positivism went a step further by claiming that scientific laws could be deduced from empirical observations. Going beyond this, Durkheim claimed that sociology would not only discover "apparent" laws, but would be able to discover the inherent nature of society.

Scholars also debate the exact influence of Jewish thought on Durkheim's work. The answer remains uncertain; some scholars have argued that Durkheim's thought is a form of secularized Jewish thought
Secular Jewish culture
Secular Jewish culture embraces several related phenomena; above all, it is the international culture of secular communities of Jewish people, but it can also include the cultural contributions of individuals who identify as secular Jews...

, while others argue that proving the existence of a direct influence of Jewish thought on Durkheim's achievements is difficult or impossible.

Establishing sociology


Durkheim authored some of the most programmatic statements on what sociology is and how it should be practiced. His concern was to establish sociology as a science. Arguing for a place for sociology among other sciences he wrote:
To give sociology a place in the academic world and to ensure that it is a legitimate science, it must have an object that is clear and distinct from philosophy or psychology, and its own methodology
Methodology
Methodology is generally a guideline for solving a problem, with specificcomponents such as phases, tasks, methods, techniques and tools . It can be defined also as follows:...

. He argued:
A fundamental aim of sociology is to discover structural "social fact
Social fact
In sociology, social facts are the values, cultural norms, and social structures external to the individual and capable of exercising a constraint on that individual....

s".

Establishment of sociology as an independent, recognized academic discipline is amongst Durkheim's largest and most lasting legacies. Within sociology, his work has significantly influenced the structuralism
Structural functionalism
Structural functionalism is a broad perspective in sociology and anthropology which sets out to interpret society as a structure with interrelated parts. Functionalism addresses society as a whole in terms of the function of its constituent elements; namely norms, customs, traditions and institutions...

 or structural functionalism. Scholars inspired by Durkheim include Marcel Mauss
Marcel Mauss
Marcel Mauss was a French sociologist. The nephew of Émile Durkheim, Mauss' academic work traversed the boundaries between sociology and anthropology...

, Maurice Halbwachs
Maurice Halbwachs
Maurice Halbwachs was a French philosopher and sociologist known for developing the concept of collective memory.Born in Reims, Halbwachs attended the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. There he studied philosophy with Henri Bergson, who influenced him greatly. He aggregated in Philosophy in 1901...

, Célestin Bouglé
Célestin Bouglé
Célestin Bouglé was a French philosopher known for his role as one of Émile Durkheim's collaborators and a member of the Annee Sociologique.-Life:...

, Alfred Radcliffe-Brown
Alfred Radcliffe-Brown
Alfred Reginald Radcliffe-Brown was an English social anthropologist who developed the theory of Structural Functionalism.- Biography :...

, Talcott Parsons
Talcott Parsons
Talcott Parsons was an American sociologist who served on the faculty of Harvard University from 1927 to 1973....

, Robert K. Merton
Robert K. Merton
Robert King Merton was a distinguished American sociologist. He spent most of his career teaching at Columbia University, where he attained the rank of University Professor...

, Jean Piaget
Jean Piaget
Jean Piaget was a French-speaking Swiss developmental psychologist and philosopher known for his epistemological studies with children. His theory of cognitive development and epistemological view are together called "genetic epistemology"....

, Claude Lévi-Strauss
Claude Lévi-Strauss
Claude Lévi-Strauss was a French anthropologist and ethnologist, and has been called, along with James George Frazer, the "father of modern anthropology"....

, Ferdinand de Saussure
Ferdinand de Saussure
Ferdinand de Saussure was a Swiss linguist whose ideas laid a foundation for many significant developments in linguistics in the 20th century. He is widely considered one of the fathers of 20th-century linguistics...

, Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault , born Paul-Michel Foucault , was a French philosopher, social theorist and historian of ideas...

, Clifford Geertz
Clifford Geertz
Clifford James Geertz was an American anthropologist who is remembered mostly for his strong support for and influence on the practice of symbolic anthropology, and who was considered "for three decades...the single most influential cultural anthropologist in the United States." He served until...

, Peter Berger
Peter L. Berger
Peter Ludwig Berger is an Austrian-born American sociologist well known for his work, co-authored with Thomas Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge .-Biography:...

, Robert Bellah and others.

Methodology



In his Rules of the Sociological Method
Rules of the Sociological Method
The Rules of Sociological Method is a book by Émile Durkheim, first published in 1895. It is recognized as being the direct result of Durkheim's own project of establishing sociology as a positivist social science. Durkheim is seen as one of the fathers of sociology, and this work, his manifesto...

(1895), Durkheim expressed his will to establish a method
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

 that would guarantee sociology's truly scientific character. One of the questions raised by the author concerns the objectivity
Objectivity (science)
Objectivity in science is a value that informs how science is practiced and how scientific truths are created. It is the idea that scientists, in attempting to uncover truths about the natural world, must aspire to eliminate personal biases, a priori commitments, emotional involvement, etc...

 of the sociologist: how may one study an object that, from the very beginning, conditions and relates to the observer? According to Durkheim, observation
Observation
Observation is either an activity of a living being, such as a human, consisting of receiving knowledge of the outside world through the senses, or the recording of data using scientific instruments. The term may also refer to any data collected during this activity...

 must be as impartial and impersonal as possible, even though a "perfectly objective observation" in this sense may never be attained. A social fact must always be studied according to its relation
Social relation
In social science, a social relation or social interaction refers to a relationship between two , three or more individuals . Social relations, derived from individual agency, form the basis of the social structure. To this extent social relations are always the basic object of analysis for social...

 with other social facts, never according to the individual who studies it. Sociology should therefore privilege comparison
Comparative method
In linguistics, the comparative method is a technique for studying the development of languages by performing a feature-by-feature comparison of two or more languages with common descent from a shared ancestor, as opposed to the method of internal reconstruction, which analyzes the internal...

 rather than the study of singular independent facts.

It has been noted, at times with disapproval and amazement by non-French social scientists, that Durkheim traveled little and that, like many French scholars and the notable British anthropologist Sir James Frazer
James Frazer
Sir James George Frazer , was a Scottish social anthropologist influential in the early stages of the modern studies of mythology and comparative religion...

, he never undertook any fieldwork. The vast information Durkheim studied on the aboriginal tribes of Australia
Indigenous Australians
Indigenous Australians are the original inhabitants of the Australian continent and nearby islands. The Aboriginal Indigenous Australians migrated from the Indian continent around 75,000 to 100,000 years ago....

 and New Guinea
New Guinea
New Guinea is the world's second largest island, after Greenland, covering a land area of 786,000 km2. Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, it lies geographically to the east of the Malay Archipelago, with which it is sometimes included as part of a greater Indo-Australian Archipelago...

 and on the Inuit
Inuit
The Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Canada , Denmark , Russia and the United States . Inuit means “the people” in the Inuktitut language...

 was all collected by other anthropologists, travelers, or missionaries.

This was not due to provincialism or lack of attention to the concrete. Durkheim did not intend to make venturesome and dogmatic generalizations while disregarding empirical observation. He did, however, maintain that concrete observation in remote parts of the world does not always lead to illuminating views on the past or even on the present. For him, facts had no intellectual meaning unless they were grouped into types
Typification
Typification is a process of creating standard social construction based on standard assumptions. Discrimination based on typification is called typism.-References:*...

 and laws
Scientific law
A scientific law is a statement that explains what something does in science just like Newton's law of universal gravitation. A scientific law must always apply under the same conditions, and implies a causal relationship between its elements. The law must be confirmed and broadly agreed upon...

. He claimed repeatedly that it is from a construction erected on the inner nature
Essentialism
In philosophy, essentialism is the view that, for any specific kind of entity, there is a set of characteristics or properties all of which any entity of that kind must possess. Therefore all things can be precisely defined or described...

 of the real that knowledge of concrete reality
Scientific realism
Scientific realism is, at the most general level, the view that the world described by science is the real world, as it is, independent of what we might take it to be...

 is obtained, a knowledge not perceived by observation of the facts from the outside. He thus constructed concepts such as the sacred
Sacred
Holiness, or sanctity, is in general the state of being holy or sacred...

 and totemism exactly in the same way that Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 developed the concept of class
Class conflict
Class conflict is the tension or antagonism which exists in society due to competing socioeconomic interests between people of different classes....

.

Durkheim sought to create one of the first rigorous scientific approaches to social phenomena. Along with Herbert Spencer
Herbert Spencer
Herbert Spencer was an English philosopher, biologist, sociologist, and prominent classical liberal political theorist of the Victorian era....

, he was one of the first people to explain the existence and quality of different parts of a society by reference to what function they served in maintaining the quotidian (i.e. by how they make society "work"). He also agreed with his organic analogy
Organicism
Organicism is a philosophical orientation that asserts that reality is best understood as an organic whole. By definition it is close to holism. Plato, Hobbes or Constantin Brunner are examples of such philosophical thought....

, comparing society to a living organism. Thus his work is sometimes seen as a precursor to functionalism. Durkheim also insisted that society was more than the sum of its parts
Holism
Holism is the idea that all the properties of a given system cannot be determined or explained by its component parts alone...

.

Unlike his contemporaries Ferdinand Tönnies
Ferdinand Tönnies
Ferdinand Tönnies was a German sociologist. He was a major contributor to sociological theory and field studies, best known for his distinction between two types of social groups, Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft...

 and Max Weber
Max Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber was a German sociologist and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself...

, he focused not on what motivates the actions of individuals (an approach associated with methodological individualism
Methodological individualism
Methodological individualism is the theory that social phenomena can only be accurately explained by showing how they result from the intentional states that motivate the individual actors. The idea has been used to criticize historicism, structural functionalism, and the roles of social class,...

), but rather on the study of social facts.

Social facts


Durkheim's work revolved around the study of social facts, a term he coined to describe phenomena that have an existence in and of themselves, are not bound to the actions of individuals, but have a coercive influence upon them. Durkheim argued that social facts have, sui generis
Sui generis
Sui generis is a Latin expression, literally meaning of its own kind/genus or unique in its characteristics. The expression is often used in analytic philosophy to indicate an idea, an entity, or a reality which cannot be included in a wider concept....

, an independent existence greater and more objective than the actions of the individuals that compose society. Only such social facts can explain the observed social phenomena. Being exterior to the individual person, social facts may thus also exercise coercive power
Social control
Social control refers generally to societal and political mechanisms or processes that regulate individual and group behavior, leading to conformity and compliance to the rules of a given society, state, or social group. Many mechanisms of social control are cross-cultural, if only in the control...

 on the various people composing society, as it can sometimes be observed in the case of formal laws and regulations, but also in situations implying the presence of informal rules, such as religious rituals or family norms. Unlike the facts studied in natural science
Natural science
The natural sciences are branches of science that seek to elucidate the rules that govern the natural world by using empirical and scientific methods...

s, a "social" fact thus refers to a specific category of phenomena:
Such social facts are endowed with a power of coercion, by reason of which they may control individual behaviors. According to Durkheim, these phenomena cannot be reduced to biological
Biology
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines...

 or psychological
Psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

 grounds. Social facts can be material (physical objects) or immaterial (meanings, sentiments, etc.). The latter cannot be seen or touched, but they are external and coercive, and as such, they become real, gain "facticity". Physical objects can represent both material and immaterial social facts; for example a flag is a physical social fact that often has various immaterial social facts (the meaning and importance of the flag) attached to it.

Many social facts, however, have no material form. Even the most "individualistic" or "subjective" phenomena, such as love, freedom or suicide, would be regarded by Durkheim as objective social facts. Individuals composing society do not directly cause suicide: suicide, as a social fact, exists independently in society, and is caused by other social facts (such as rules governing behavior
Behavior
Behavior or behaviour refers to the actions and mannerisms made by organisms, systems, or artificial entities in conjunction with its environment, which includes the other systems or organisms around as well as the physical environment...

 and group attachment), whether an individual likes it or not. Whether a person "leaves" a society does not change anything to the fact that this society will still contain suicides. Suicide, like other immaterial social facts, exists independently of the will of an individual, cannot be eliminated, and is as influential - coercive - as physical laws such as gravity. Sociology's task thus consists of discovering the qualities and characteristics of such social facts, which can be discovered through a quantitative
Quantitative research
In the social sciences, quantitative research refers to the systematic empirical investigation of social phenomena via statistical, mathematical or computational techniques. The objective of quantitative research is to develop and employ mathematical models, theories and/or hypotheses pertaining to...

 or experimental approach (Durkheim extensively relied on statistics
Social statistics
Social statistics is the use of statistical measurement systems to study human behavior in a social environment. This can be accomplished through polling a particular group of people, evaluating a particular subset of data obtained about a group of people, or by observation and statistical...

).

Society, collective consciousness and culture



Regarding the society itself, like social institutions in general, Durkheim saw it as a set of social facts. Even more than "what society is", Durkheim was interested in answering "how is a society created" and "what holds a society together". In his Division of Labor in Society, Durkheim attempted to answer the question of what holds the society together. He assumes that humans are inherently egoistic
Egotism
Egotism is "characterized by an exaggerated estimate of one's intellect, ability, importance, appearance, wit, or other valued personal characteristics" – the drive to maintain and enhance favorable views of oneself....

, but norms
Norm (sociology)
Social norms are the accepted behaviors within a society or group. This sociological and social psychological term has been defined as "the rules that a group uses for appropriate and inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. These rules may be explicit or implicit...

, belief
Belief
Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise to be true.-Belief, knowledge and epistemology:The terms belief and knowledge are used differently in philosophy....

s and values
Value (ethics)
In ethics, value is a property of objects, including physical objects as well as abstract objects , representing their degree of importance....

 (collective consciousness
Collective consciousness
Collective consciousness was a term coined by the French sociologist Émile Durkheim to refer to the shared beliefs and moral attitudes which operate as a unifying force within society...

) form the moral basis of the society, resulting in social integration
Social integration
Social integration, in sociology and other social sciences, is the movement of minority groups such as ethnic minorities, refugees and underprivileged sections of a society into the mainstream of societies...

. Collective consciousness is of key importance to the society, its requisite function without which the society cannot survive. Collective consciousness produces the society and holds it together, and at the same time individuals produce collective consciousness through their interactions. Through collective consciousness human beings become aware of one another as social beings, not just animals.
In particular, the emotion
Emotion
Emotion is a complex psychophysiological experience of an individual's state of mind as interacting with biochemical and environmental influences. In humans, emotion fundamentally involves "physiological arousal, expressive behaviors, and conscious experience." Emotion is associated with mood,...

al part of the collective consciousness overrides our egoism
Egotism
Egotism is "characterized by an exaggerated estimate of one's intellect, ability, importance, appearance, wit, or other valued personal characteristics" – the drive to maintain and enhance favorable views of oneself....

: as we are emotionally bound to culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

, we act socially because we recognize it is the responsible, moral way to act. A key to forming society is social interaction, and Durkheim believes that human beings, when in a group, will inevitably act in such a way that a society is formed.

In this argument, Durkheim acknowledges the importance of another key social fact - the culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

. Groups, when interacting, create their own culture and attach powerful emotions to it. He was one of the first scholars to consider the question of culture so intensely. Durkheim was interested in cultural diversity
Cultural diversity
Cultural diversity is having different cultures respect each other's differences. It could also mean the variety of human societies or cultures in a specific region, or in the world as a whole...

, and how the existence of diversity nonetheless fails to destroy a society. To that, Durkheim answered that any apparent cultural diversity is overridden by a larger, common, and more generalized cultural system, and the law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

.

In a socioevolutionary approach, Durkheim described the evolution of societies from mechanical solidarity to organic solidarity (one rising from mutual need). As the societies become more complex, evolving from mechanical to organic solidarity, the division of labor is counteracting and replacing collective consciousness. In the simpler societies, people are connected to others due to personal ties and traditions; in the larger, modern society they are connected due to increased reliance on others with regard to them performing their specialized tasks needed for the modern, highly complex society to survive. In mechanical solidarity, people are self-sufficient, there is little integration and thus there is the need for use of force and repression to keep society together. Also, in such societies, people have much fewer options in life. In organic solidarity, people are much more integrated and interdependent and specialisation and cooperation is extensive. Progress from mechanical to organic solidarity is based first on population growth
Population growth
Population growth is the change in a population over time, and can be quantified as the change in the number of individuals of any species in a population using "per unit time" for measurement....

 and increasing population density
Population density
Population density is a measurement of population per unit area or unit volume. It is frequently applied to living organisms, and particularly to humans...

, second on increasing "morality density" (development of more complex social interactions) and thirdly, on the increasing specialisation in workplace. One of the ways mechanical and organic societies differ is the function of law: in mechanical society the law is focused on its punitive
Punishment
Punishment is the authoritative imposition of something negative or unpleasant on a person or animal in response to behavior deemed wrong by an individual or group....

 aspect, and aims to reinforce the cohesion of the community, often by making the punishment public and extreme; whereas in the organic society the law focuses on repairing the damage done and is more focused on individuals than the community.

One of the main features of the modern, organic society is the importance, sacred
Sacred
Holiness, or sanctity, is in general the state of being holy or sacred...

ness even, given to the concept - social fact - of the individual
Individual
An individual is a person or any specific object or thing in a collection. Individuality is the state or quality of being an individual; a person separate from other persons and possessing his or her own needs, goals, and desires. Being self expressive...

. The individual, rather than the collective, becomes the focus of rights and responsibilities, the center of public and private rituals holding the society together - a function once performed by the religion. To stress the importance of this concept, Durkheim talked of the "cult of the individual":
Durkheim saw the population density
Population density
Population density is a measurement of population per unit area or unit volume. It is frequently applied to living organisms, and particularly to humans...

 and growth
Population growth
Population growth is the change in a population over time, and can be quantified as the change in the number of individuals of any species in a population using "per unit time" for measurement....

 as key factors in the evolution of the societies and advent of modernity
Modernity
Modernity typically refers to a post-traditional, post-medieval historical period, one marked by the move from feudalism toward capitalism, industrialization, secularization, rationalization, the nation-state and its constituent institutions and forms of surveillance...

. As the number of people in a given area increase, so does the number of interactions, and the society becomes more complex. Growing competition
Competition
Competition is a contest between individuals, groups, animals, etc. for territory, a niche, or a location of resources. It arises whenever two and only two strive for a goal which cannot be shared. Competition occurs naturally between living organisms which co-exist in the same environment. For...

 between the more numerous people also leads to further division of labor. In time, the importance of the state, the law and the individual increases, while that of the religion and moral solidarity decreases.

In another example of evolution of culture, Durkheim pointed to fashion
Fashion
Fashion, a general term for a currently popular style or practice, especially in clothing, foot wear, or accessories. Fashion references to anything that is the current trend in look and dress up of a person...

, although in this case he noted a more cyclical phenomenon. According to Durkheim, fashion serves to differentiate between lower classes and upper class
Upper class
In social science, the "upper class" is the group of people at the top of a social hierarchy. Members of an upper class may have great power over the allocation of resources and governmental policy in their area.- Historical meaning :...

es, but because lower classes want to look like the upper classes, they will eventually adapt the upper class fashion, depreciating it, and forcing the upper class to adopt a new fashion.

Social pathologies and crime


As the society, Durkheim noted there are several possible pathologies
Pathology
Pathology is the precise study and diagnosis of disease. The word pathology is from Ancient Greek , pathos, "feeling, suffering"; and , -logia, "the study of". Pathologization, to pathologize, refers to the process of defining a condition or behavior as pathological, e.g. pathological gambling....

 that could lead to a breakdown of social integration
Social integration
Social integration, in sociology and other social sciences, is the movement of minority groups such as ethnic minorities, refugees and underprivileged sections of a society into the mainstream of societies...

 and disintegration of the society: the two most important ones are anomie
Anomie
Anomie is a term meaning "without Law" to describe a lack of social norms; "normlessness". It describes the breakdown of social bonds between an individual and their community ties, with fragmentation of social identity and rejection of self-regulatory values. It was popularized by French...

 and forced division of labor; lesser ones include the lack of coordination and suicide. By anomie Durkheim means a state when too rapid population growth reduces the amount of interaction between various groups, which in turns leads a breakdown of understanding (norms, values, and so on). By forced division of labor Durkheim means a situation where power holders, driven by their desire for profit
Profit (economics)
In economics, the term profit has two related but distinct meanings. Normal profit represents the total opportunity costs of a venture to an entrepreneur or investor, whilst economic profit In economics, the term profit has two related but distinct meanings. Normal profit represents the total...

 (greed
Greed
Greed is an excessive desire to possess wealth, goods, or abstract things of value with the intention to keep it for one's self. Greed is inappropriate expectation...

), results in people doing the work they are unsuited for. Such people are unhappy, and their desire to change the system can destabilize the society.

Durkheim's views on crime were a departure from conventional notions. He believed that crime is "bound up with the fundamental conditions of all social life
Social relation
In social science, a social relation or social interaction refers to a relationship between two , three or more individuals . Social relations, derived from individual agency, form the basis of the social structure. To this extent social relations are always the basic object of analysis for social...

" and serves a social function. He stated that crime implies, "not only that the way remains open to necessary changes but that in certain cases it directly prepares these changes." Examining the trial of Socrates
Trial of Socrates
The Trial of Socrates refers to the trial and the subsequent execution of the classical Athenian philosopher Socrates in 399 BC. Socrates was tried on the basis of two notoriously ambiguous charges: corrupting the youth and impiety...

, he argues that "his crime, namely, the independence of his thought, rendered a service not only to humanity but to his country" as "it served to prepare a new morality and faith that the Athenians needed". As such, his crime "was a useful prelude to reforms". In this sense, he saw crime as being able to release certain social tensions and so have a cleansing or purging effect in society. He further stated that "the authority which the moral conscience
Conscience
Conscience is an aptitude, faculty, intuition or judgment of the intellect that distinguishes right from wrong. Moral judgement may derive from values or norms...

 enjoys must not be excessive; otherwise, no-one would dare to criticize it, and it would too easily congeal into an immutable form. To make progress, individual originality must be able to express itself...[even] the originality of the criminal... shall also be possible".

Suicide



In Suicide
Suicide (book)
Suicide was one of the groundbreaking books in the field of sociology. Written by French sociologist Émile Durkheim and published in 1897 it was a case study of suicide, a publication unique for its time which provided an example of what the sociological...

(1897), Durkheim explores the differing suicide rates among Protestants
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 and Catholics, arguing that stronger social control
Social control
Social control refers generally to societal and political mechanisms or processes that regulate individual and group behavior, leading to conformity and compliance to the rules of a given society, state, or social group. Many mechanisms of social control are cross-cultural, if only in the control...

 among Catholics results in lower suicide rates. According to Durkheim, Catholic society has normal levels of integration
Social integration
Social integration, in sociology and other social sciences, is the movement of minority groups such as ethnic minorities, refugees and underprivileged sections of a society into the mainstream of societies...

 while Protestant society has low levels. Overall, Durkheim treated suicide
Suicide
Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair or attributed to some underlying mental disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse...

 as a social fact
Social fact
In sociology, social facts are the values, cultural norms, and social structures external to the individual and capable of exercising a constraint on that individual....

, explaining variations in its rate on a macro level, considering society-scale phenomena such as lack of connections between people (group attachment) and lack of regulations of behavior, rather than individual's feelings and motivations.

This study has been extensively discussed by later scholars and several major criticisms have emerged. First, Durkheim took most of his data from earlier researchers, notably Adolph Wagner
Adolph Wagner
Adolph Wagner was a German economist and politician, a leading Kathedersozialist and public finance scholar and advocate of Agrarianism...

 and Henry Morselli
Henry Morselli
Henry Morselli was an Italian physician and professor at the University of Turin, best known for the publication of his influential book, Suicide: An Essay on Comparative Moral Statistics , claiming that suicide was primarily the result of the struggle for life and nature's evolutionary...

, who were much more careful in generalizing from their own data. Second, later researchers found that the Protestant–Catholic differences in suicide seemed to be limited to German-speaking Europe
German-speaking Europe
The German language is spoken in a number of countries and territories in West, Central and Eastern Europe...

 and thus may always have been the spurious reflection of other factors. Durkheim's study of suicide has been criticized as an example of the logical error
Fallacy
In logic and rhetoric, a fallacy is usually an incorrect argumentation in reasoning resulting in a misconception or presumption. By accident or design, fallacies may exploit emotional triggers in the listener or interlocutor , or take advantage of social relationships between people...

 termed the ecological fallacy
Ecological fallacy
An ecological fallacy is a logical fallacy in the interpretation of statistical data in an ecological study, whereby inferences about the nature of specific individuals are based solely upon aggregate statistics collected for the group to which those individuals belong...

. However, diverging views have contested whether Durkheim's work really contained an ecological fallacy. More recent authors such as Berk (2006) have also questioned the micro-macro relations
Structure and agency
The question over the primacy of either structure or agency in human behavior is a central debate in the social sciences. In this context, "agency" refers to the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. "Structure", by contrast, refers to the recurrent...

 underlying Durkheim's work. Some, such as Inkeles (1959), Johnson (1965) and Gibbs (1968), have claimed that Durkheim's only intent was to explain suicide sociologically within a holistic
Holism
Holism is the idea that all the properties of a given system cannot be determined or explained by its component parts alone...

 perspective, emphasizing that "he intended his theory to explain variation among social environment
Social environment
The social environment of an individual, also called social context or milieu, is the culture that s/he was educated or lives in, and the people and institutions with whom the person interacts....

s in the incidence of suicide, not the suicides of particular individuals."

Despite its limitations, Durkheim's work on suicide has influenced proponents of control theory
Control theory (sociology)
Control Theory in sociology can either be classified as centralized or decentralized or neither. Decentralized control is considered market control. Centralized control is considered bureaucratic control...

, and is often mentioned as a classic sociological study. The book pioneered modern social research
Social research
Social research refers to research conducted by social scientists. Social research methods may be divided into two broad categories:* Quantitative designs approach social phenomena through quantifiable evidence, and often rely on statistical analysis of many cases to create valid and reliable...

 and served to distinguish social science from psychology
Psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

 and political philosophy
Political philosophy
Political philosophy is the study of such topics as liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of a legal code by authority: what they are, why they are needed, what, if anything, makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect and why, what form it...

.

Religion


In The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life
The Elementary Forms of The Religious Life
The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life , published by French sociologist Émile Durkheim in 1912, is a book that analyzes religion as a social phenomenon...

, Durkheim’s first purpose was to identify the social origin and function of religion as he felt that religion was a source of camaraderie and solidarity. His second purpose was to identify links between certain religions in different cultures, finding a common denominator. He wanted to understand the empirical, social aspect of religion, aspect that is common to all religions and goes beyond the concepts of spirituality
Spirituality
Spirituality can refer to an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality; an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being; or the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.” Spiritual practices, including meditation, prayer and contemplation, are intended to develop...

 and God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

.

Durkheim defined religion as
In this definition, Durkheim avoids references to supernatural
Supernatural
The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature...

 or God. Durkheim argued that the concept of supernatural is relatively new, tied to the development of science and separation of supernatural—that which cannot be rationally explained—from natural, that which can. Thus, according to Durkheim, for early humans, everything was supernatural. Similarly, he points out that religions which give little importance to the concept of god exist, such as Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

, where the Four Noble Truths
Four Noble Truths
The Four Noble Truths are an important principle in Buddhism, classically taught by the Buddha in the Dharmacakra Pravartana Sūtra....

 is much more important than any individual deity. With that, Durkheim argues, we are left with the following three concepts: the sacred
Sacred
Holiness, or sanctity, is in general the state of being holy or sacred...

 (the ideas that cannot be properly explained, inspire awe and are considered worthy of spiritual respect or devotion), the belief
Belief
Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise to be true.-Belief, knowledge and epistemology:The terms belief and knowledge are used differently in philosophy....

s and practices
Ritual
A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers....

 (which create highly emotional state—collective effervescence
Collective Effervescence
Collective effervescence is a perceived energy formed by a gathering of people as might be experienced at a sporting event, a carnival, a rave, or a riot...

—and invest symbols with sacred importance), and the moral community
Moral community
A moral community is a group of people drawn together by a common interest in living according to a particular moral philosophy.Moral communities are typically associated with a religion and advocate that religion's conception of a good life. The congregation of a church, synagogue, or mosque is a...

 (a group of people sharing a common moral philosophy). Out of those three concepts, Durkheim focused on the sacred, noting that it is at the very core of a religion. He defined sacred things as:
Durkheim saw religion as the most fundamental social institution of humankind, and one that gave rise to other social forms. It was the religion that gave humanity the strongest sense of collective consciousness
Collective consciousness
Collective consciousness was a term coined by the French sociologist Émile Durkheim to refer to the shared beliefs and moral attitudes which operate as a unifying force within society...

. Durkheim saw the religion as a force that emerged in the early hunter and gatherer societies, as the emotions collective effervescence
Collective Effervescence
Collective effervescence is a perceived energy formed by a gathering of people as might be experienced at a sporting event, a carnival, a rave, or a riot...

 run high in the growing groups, forcing them to act in a new ways, and giving them a sense of some hidden force driving them. Over time, as emotions became symbolized and interactions ritualized, religion became more organized, giving a rise to the division between the sacred and the profane. However, other social facts would eventually begin to eclipse the religion, and Durkheim believed that religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 is becoming less important, and superseded by science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 and the cult of an individual.
However, even if the religion is losing its importance, it still laid the foundation of our modern society and interactions that govern it. And despite the advent of alternative forces, Durkheim argues that no replacement for the force of religion has yet been created, and expresses his doubt about the modernity, seeing the modern times as "a period of transition and moral mediocrity".

Durkheim also argued that our primary categories for understanding the world have their origins in religion. It is religion, Durkheim writes, that gave rise to most if not all other social constructs, including the larger society. Durkheim argued that categories are produced by the society, and thus are collective creations. Thus as people create societies, they also create categories, but at the same time, they do so unconsciously, and the categories are prior to any individual's experience. In this way Durkheim attempted to bridge the divide between seeing categories
Category of being
In metaphysics , the different kinds or ways of being are called categories of being or simply categories. To investigate the categories of being is to determine the most fundamental and the broadest classes of entities...

 as constructed out of human experience and as logically prior to that experience. Our understanding of the world is shaped by social facts; for example the notion of time
Time
Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects....

 is defined by being measured through a calendar
Calendar
A calendar is a system of organizing days for social, religious, commercial, or administrative purposes. This is done by giving names to periods of time, typically days, weeks, months, and years. The name given to each day is known as a date. Periods in a calendar are usually, though not...

, which in turn was created to allow us to keep track of our social gatherings and rituals; those in turn on their most basic level originated from religion. In the end, even the most logical and rational pursuit of science can trace its origins to religion. Durkheim states that, "Religion gave birth to all that is essential in the society.

In his work, Durkheim focused on totemism
Totemism
Totemism is a system of belief in which humans are said to have kinship or a mystical relationship with a spirit-being, such as an animal or plant...

, the religion of the aboriginal
Australian Aborigines
Australian Aborigines , also called Aboriginal Australians, from the latin ab originem , are people who are indigenous to most of the Australian continentthat is, to mainland Australia and the island of Tasmania...

 Australians and Native American
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

s. Durkheim saw totemism as the most ancient religion, and focused on it as he believed its simplicity would ease the discussion of the essential elements of religion.

See also


  • Antipositivism
    Antipositivism
    Antipositivism is the view in social science that the social realm may not be subject to the same methods of investigation as the natural world; that academics must reject empiricism and the scientific method in the conduct of research...

  • Normlessness
    Normlessness
    Émile Durkheim described anomie which is a state of relative normlessness or a state in which norms have been eroded. A norm is an expectation of how people will behave, and it takes the form of a rule that is socially rather than formally enforced...

  • Social structure
    Social structure
    Social structure is a term used in the social sciences to refer to patterned social arrangements in society that are both emergent from and determinant of the actions of the individuals. The usage of the term "social structure" has changed over time and may reflect the various levels of analysis...


Selected works

  • Montesquieu's contributions to the formation of social science (1892)
  • The Division of Labour in Society
    The Division of Labour in Society
    The Division of Labor in Society is the dissertation of French sociologist Émile Durkheim, written in 1893. It was influential in advancing sociological theories and thought, with ideas which in turn were influenced by Auguste Comte...

    (1893)
  • Rules of the Sociological Method
    Rules of the Sociological Method
    The Rules of Sociological Method is a book by Émile Durkheim, first published in 1895. It is recognized as being the direct result of Durkheim's own project of establishing sociology as a positivist social science. Durkheim is seen as one of the fathers of sociology, and this work, his manifesto...

    (1895)
  • On the Normality of Crime (1895)
  • Suicide
    Suicide (book)
    Suicide was one of the groundbreaking books in the field of sociology. Written by French sociologist Émile Durkheim and published in 1897 it was a case study of suicide, a publication unique for its time which provided an example of what the sociological...

    (1897)
  • The Prohibition of Incest and its Origins (1897), published in L'Année Sociologique
    L'Année Sociologique
    L'Année Sociologique is a sociology journal founded in 1898 by Émile Durkheim, who also served as its editor. It was published annually until 1925, and returned to publication as Annales Sociologiques between 1934 and 1942...

    , vol. 1, pp. 1–70
  • Sociology and its Scientific Domain (1900), translation of an Italian text entitled "La sociologia e il suo dominio scientifico"
  • The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912)
  • Who Wanted War? (1914), in collaboration with Ernest Denis
    Ernest Denis
    Ernest Denis was a French historian. Denis became known as a specialist of Germany and Bohemia, and played a major role in the establishment of the Czechoslovak state in 1918. Along with Louis Léger, he is considered to be one of the most highly regarded twentieth-century historians of the Slav...

  • Germany Above All (1915)


Published posthumously:
  • Education and Sociology (1922)
  • Sociology and Philosophy (1924)
  • Moral Education (1925)
  • Socialism (1928)
  • Pragmatism and Sociology (1955)

Further reading


  • Bellah, Robert N.
    Robert N. Bellah
    Robert Neelly Bellah is an American sociologist, now the Elliott Professor of Sociology, Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. Bellah is best known for his work related to "American civil religion"...

     (ed.) (1973). Emile Durkheim: On Morality and Society, Selected Writings. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (ISBN 978-0-226-17336-8).
  • Cotterrell, Roger
    Roger Cotterrell
    Roger Cotterrell is the Anniversary Professor of Legal Theory at Queen Mary, University of London and was made a Fellow of the British Academy in 2005...

     (1999). Emile Durkheim: Law in a Moral Domain. Edinburgh University Press / Stanford University Press (ISBN 0-8047-3808-4, ISBN 978-0-8047-3808-8).
  • Cotterrell, Roger
    Roger Cotterrell
    Roger Cotterrell is the Anniversary Professor of Legal Theory at Queen Mary, University of London and was made a Fellow of the British Academy in 2005...

     (ed.) (2010). Emile Durkheim: Justice, Morality and Politics. Ashgate (ISBN 978-0-7546-2711-1).
  • Douglas, Jack D. (1973). The Social Meanings of Suicide. Princeton University Press (ISBN 978-0-691-02812-5).
  • Eitzen, Stanley D. and Maxine Baca Zinn (1997). Social Problems (11th ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon (ISBN 0-205-54796-6).
  • Giddens, Anthony
    Anthony Giddens
    Anthony Giddens, Baron Giddens is a British sociologist who is known for his theory of structuration and his holistic view of modern societies. He is considered to be one of the most prominent modern contributors in the field of sociology, the author of at least 34 books, published in at least 29...

     (ed.) (1972). Emile Durkheim: Selected Writings. London: Cambridge University Press (ISBN 0-521-09712-6, ISBN 978-0-521-09712-3).
  • Giddens, Anthony (ed.) (1986). Durkheim on Politics and the State. Cambridge: Polity Press (ISBN 0-7456-0131-6).
  • Henslin, James M. (1996). Essentials of Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon (ISBN 0-205-17480-9, ISBN 978-0-205-17480-5).
  • Jones, Susan Stedman (2001). Durkheim Reconsidered. Polity (ISBN 0-7456-1616-X, ISBN 978-0-7456-1616-2).
  • Lemert, Charles
    Charles Lemert
    Charles Lemert is an American born social theorist and sociologist. He has written extensively on social theory, globalization and culture...

     (2006). Durkheim's Ghosts: Cultural Logics and Social Things. Cambridge University Press (ISBN 0-521-84266-2, ISBN 978-0-521-84266-2).
  • Lockwood, David
    David Lockwood
    David Lockwood is a sociologist.His book, The Blackcoated Worker, sought to analyse the changes in the stratification position of the clerical worker by using a framework based on Max Weber's distinction between market and work situations...

     (1992). Solidarity and Schism: "The Problem of Disorder" in Durkheimian and Marxist Sociology. Oxford: Clarendon Press (ISBN 0-19-827717-2, ISBN 978-0-19-827717-0).
  • Lukes, Steven
    Steven Lukes
    Steven Michael Lukes is a political and social theorist. Currently he is a professor of politics and sociology at New York University...

     (1985). Emile Durkheim: His Life and Work, a Historical and Critical Study. Stanford University Press (ISBN 0-8047-1283-2, ISBN 978-0-8047-1283-5).
  • Mestrovic, Stjepan
    Stjepan Meštrovic
    Dr. Stjepan Gabriel Meštrović is an American sociologist, professor, author of over fifteen books and a distinguished expert in matters of war crimes...

     (1988). Emile Durkheim and the Reformation of Sociology. Rowan & Littlefield. (ISBN 0-8476-7867-9)
  • Pickering, W. S. F. (2009). Durkheim's Sociology of Religion: Themes and Theories, The James Clarke & Co (ISBN 978-0-227-17297-1).
  • Pickering, W. S. F. (2000). Durkheim and Representations, Routledge (ISBN 0-415-19090-8).
  • Pickering, W. S. F. (ed.) (1979). Durkheim: Essays on Morals and Education, Routledge & Kegan Paul (ISBN 0-7100-0321-8).
  • Pickering, W. S. F. (ed.) (1975). Durkheim on Religion, Routledge & Kegan Paul (ISBN 0-7100-8108-1).
  • Siegel, Larry J (2007). Criminology: Theories, Patterns, and Typologies (7th ed.) Wadsworth/Thomson Learning (ISBN 0-495-00572-X, ISBN 978-0-495-00572-8).
  • Tekiner, Deniz (2002). "German Idealist Foundations of Durkheim's Sociology and Teleology of Knowledge", Theory and Science, III, 1, Online publication.
  • Thompson, Kenneth (2002). Emile Durkheim (2nd ed.) Routledge (ISBN 0-415-28530-5, ISBN 978-0-415-28530-8).


External links