David Émile Durkheim (French: [emil dyʁkɛm] or [dyʁkajm]; 15 April 1858 – 15 November 1917) was a French sociologist. He formally established the academic discipline and—with W. E. B. Du Bois, Karl Marx and Max Weber—is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science.
Much of Durkheim's work was concerned with how societies could maintain their integrity and coherence in modernity, 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 Labour in Society (1893). In 1895, he published The Rules of Sociological Method and set up the first European department of sociology, becoming France's first professor of sociology. In 1898, he established the journal L'Année Sociologique. Durkheim's seminal monograph, Suicide (1897), a study of suicide rates in Catholic and Protestant populations, pioneered modern social research and served to distinguish social science from psychology and political philosophy. The Elementary Forms of the 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. He refined the positivism originally set forth by Auguste Comte, promoting what could be considered as a form of epistemological realism, as well as the use of the hypothetico-deductive model in social science. For him, sociology was the science of institutions, if this term is understood in its broader meaning as "beliefs and modes of behaviour instituted by the collectivity" and its aim being to discover structural social facts. Durkheim was a major proponent of structural functionalism, a foundational perspective in both sociology and anthropology. In his view, social science should be purely holistic; 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, morality, social stratification, religion, law, education, and deviance. Durkheimian terms such as "collective consciousness" have since entered the popular lexicon.
David Émile Durkheim
15 April 1858
|Died||15 November 1917 (aged 59)|
|Alma mater||École Normale Supérieure|
|Known for||Sacred–profane dichotomy|
|Fields||Philosophy, sociology, education, anthropology, religious studies|
|Institutions||University of Paris, University of Bordeaux|
|Influences||Immanuel Kant, René Descartes, Plato, Herbert Spencer, Aristotle, Montesquieu, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Auguste Comte. William James, John Dewey, Fustel de Coulanges, Jean-Marie Guyau, Charles Bernard Renouvier, John Stuart Mill|
|Influenced||Marcel Mauss, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Talcott Parsons, Maurice Halbwachs, Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, Bronisław Malinowski, Fernand Braudel, Pierre Bourdieu, Charles Taylor, Henri Bergson, Emmanuel Levinas, Steven Lukes, Alfred Radcliffe-Brown, E. E. Evans-Pritchard, Mary Douglas, Paul Fauconnet, Robert N. Bellah, Ziya Gökalp, David Bloor, Randall Collins|
Emile Durkheim was born in Épinal in Lorraine, the son of Mélanie (Isidor) and Moïse Durkheim. He came from a long line of devout French Jews; his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had been rabbis. He began his education in a rabbinical school, but at an early age, he decided not to follow in his family's footsteps and switched schools. Durkheim led 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. Marcel Mauss, a notable social anthropologist of the pre-war era, was his nephew. One of his nieces was Claudette (née Raphael) Bloch, a marine biologist and mother of Maurice Bloch, who became a noted anthropologist.
A precocious student, Durkheim entered the École Normale Supérieure (ENS) in 1879, at 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 and Henri Bergson, 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, a classicist with a social scientific outlook, and wrote his Latin dissertation on Montesquieu. At the same time, he read Auguste Comte and Herbert Spencer. 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 uninteresting, turning his attention from psychology and philosophy to ethics and eventually, sociology. He obtained his agrégation in philosophy in 1882, though finishing next to last in his graduating class owing to serious illness the year before.
The opportunity for Durkheim to receive a major academic appointment in Paris was inhibited by his approach to society. 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 at the universities of Marburg, Berlin and Leipzig. As Durkheim indicated in several essays, it was in Leipzig that he learned to appreciate the value of empiricism and its language of concrete, complex things, in sharp contrast to the more abstract, clear and simple ideas of the Cartesian method. By 1886, as part of his doctoral dissertation, he had completed the draft of his The Division of Labour in Society, and was working towards establishing the new science of sociology.
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. Durkheim's articles gained recognition in France, and he received a teaching appointment in the University of Bordeaux in 1887, where he was to teach the university's first social science course. His official title was Chargé d'un Cours de Science Sociale et de Pédagogie and thus he taught both pedagogy 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 also 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 1893, he published The Division of Labour in Society, 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 led to the fall of the regime of Napoleon III, which was then replaced by the Third Republic. This in turn resulted in a backlash against the new secular and republican 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 that galvanized him politically. The Dreyfus affair of 1894 only strengthened his activist stance.
In 1895, he published The Rules of Sociological Method, a manifesto stating what sociology is and how it ought to be done, and founded the first European department of sociology at the University of Bordeaux. In 1898, he founded L'Année Sociologique, 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). In 1897, he published Suicide, a case study that provided an example of what the sociological monograph might look like. Durkheim was one of the pioneers of the use of quantitative methods in criminology 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. 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 outbreak of World War I was to have a tragic effect on Durkheim's life. His leftism 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 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 generations 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 in Paris on November 15, 1917. He was buried at the Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris.
Throughout his career, Durkheim was concerned primarily with three goals. First, to establish sociology as a new academic discipline. Second, to analyse 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 society and social integration. Lastly, Durkheim was concerned with the practical implications of scientific knowledge. The importance of social integration is expressed throughout Durkheim's work:
For if society lacks the unity that derives from the fact that the relationships between its parts are exactly regulated, that unity resulting from the harmonious articulation of its various functions assured by effective discipline and if, in addition, society lacks the unity based upon the commitment of men's wills to a common objective, then it is no more than a pile of sand that the least jolt or the slightest puff will suffice to scatter.— Émile Durkheim
During his university studies at the École, Durkheim was influenced by two neo-Kantian scholars, Charles Bernard Renouvier and Émile Boutroux. The principles Durkheim absorbed from them included rationalism, scientific study of morality, anti-utilitarianism and secular education. His methodology was influenced by Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges, a supporter of the scientific method.
A fundamental influence on Durkheim's thought was the sociological positivism of Auguste Comte, who effectively sought to extend and apply the scientific method found in the natural sciences to the social sciences. According to Comte, a true social science should stress for empirical facts, as well as induce general scientific laws 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 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. 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 that 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 of them. This view opposes other predominant philosophical perspectives such as empiricism and positivism. Empiricists such as David Hume 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, while others argue that proving the existence of a direct influence of Jewish thought on Durkheim's achievements is difficult or impossible.
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:
Sociology is, then, not an auxiliary of any other science; it is itself a distinct and autonomous science.
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. He argued, "There is in every society a certain group of phenomena which may be differentiated from ....those studied by the other natural sciences."
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 structuralism or structural functionalism. Scholars inspired by Durkheim include Marcel Mauss, Maurice Halbwachs, Célestin Bouglé, Alfred Radcliffe-Brown, Talcott Parsons, Robert K. Merton, Jean Piaget, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Ferdinand de Saussure, Michel Foucault, Clifford Geertz, Peter Berger, Robert N. Bellah, social reformer Patrick Hunout and others.
In The Rules of Sociological Method (1895), Durkheim expressed his will to establish a method that would guarantee sociology's truly scientific character. One of the questions raised by the author concerns the objectivity of the sociologist: how may one study an object that, from the very beginning, conditions and relates to the observer? According to Durkheim, observation 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 with other social facts, never according to the individual who studies it. Sociology should therefore privilege comparison rather than the study of singular independent facts.
Durkheim sought to create one of the first rigorous scientific approaches to social phenomena. Along with Herbert Spencer, 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 Spencer's organic analogy, 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.
Unlike his contemporaries Ferdinand Tönnies and Max Weber, he did not focus on what motivates the actions of individuals (an approach associated with methodological individualism), but rather on the study of social facts.
A social fact is every way of acting, fixed or not, capable of exercising on the individual an external constraint; or again, every way of acting which is general throughout a given society, while at the same time existing in its own right independent of its individual manifestations.— Émile Durkheim, The Rules of Sociological Method
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, 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 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 sciences, a "social" fact thus refers to a specific category of phenomena:
The determining cause of a social fact must be sought among the antecedent social facts and not among the states of the individual consciousness.— Émile Durkheim, The Rules of Sociological Method
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 or psychological 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 and group attachment), whether an individual likes it or not. Whether a person "leaves" a society does not alter 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 or experimental approach (Durkheim extensively relied on statistics).
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 The Division of Labour in Society, Durkheim attempted to answer the question of what holds the society together. He assumes that humans are inherently egoistic, but norms, beliefs and values (collective consciousness) form the moral basis of the society, resulting in social integration. 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.
The totality of beliefs and sentiments common to the average members of a society forms a determinate system with a life of its own. It can be termed the collective or common consciousness.— Emile Durkheim
In particular, the emotional part of the collective consciousness overrides our egoism: as we are emotionally bound to culture, 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.
The importance of another key social fact: the culture. 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, 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.
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 labour 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 and increasing population density, 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 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, sacredness even, given to the concept – social fact – of the individual. 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":
Thus very far from there being the antagonism between the individual and society which is often claimed, moral individualism, the cult of the individual, is in fact the product of society itself. It is society that instituted it and made of man the god whose servant it is.— Émile Durkheim
Durkheim saw the population density and growth as key factors in the evolution of the societies and advent of modernity. As the number of people in a given area increase, so does the number of interactions, and the society becomes more complex. Growing competition between the more numerous people also leads to further division of labour. 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, although in this case he noted a more cyclical phenomenon. According to Durkheim, fashion serves to differentiate between lower classes and upper classes, 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.
As the society, Durkheim noted there are several possible pathologies that could lead to a breakdown of social integration and disintegration of the society: the two most important ones are anomie and forced division of labour; 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 turn leads to a breakdown of understanding (norms, values, and so on). By forced division of labour Durkheim means a situation where power holders, driven by their desire for profit (greed), 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" 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, 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 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".
In Suicide (1897), Durkheim explores the differing suicide rates among Protestants and Catholics, arguing that stronger social control among Catholics results in lower suicide rates. According to Durkheim, Catholic society has normal levels of integration while Protestant society has low levels. Overall, Durkheim treated suicide as a social fact, 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 individuals' feelings and motivations.
Durkheim believed there was more to suicide than extremely personal individual life circumstances: for example, a loss of a job, divorce, or bankruptcy. Instead, he took suicide and explained it as a social fact instead of a result of one's circumstances. Durkheim believed that suicide was an instance of social deviance. Social deviance being any transgression of socially established norms. He created a normative theory of suicide focusing on the conditions of group life. The four different types of suicide that he proposed are egoistic, altruistic, anomic, and fatalistic. He began by plotting social regulation on the x-axis of his chart, and social integration on the y-axis. Egoistic suicide corresponds to a low level of social integration. When one is not well integrated into a social group it can lead to a feeling that he or she has not made a difference in anyone's lives. On the other hand, too much social integration would be altruistic suicide. This occurs when a group dominates the life of an individual to a degree where they feel meaningless to society. Anomic suicide occurs when one has an insufficient amount of social regulation. This stems from the sociological term anomie meaning a sense of aimlessness or despair that arises from the inability to reasonably expect life to be predictable. Lastly, there is fatalistic suicide, which results from too much social regulation. An example of this would be when one follows the same routine day after day. This leads to he or she believing there is nothing good to look forward to. Durkheim suggested this was the most popular form of suicide for prisoners.
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 and Henry Morselli, 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 and thus may have always been the spurious reflection of other factors. Durkheim's study of suicide has been criticized as an example of the logical error termed the ecological fallacy. 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 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 perspective, emphasizing that "he intended his theory to explain variation among social environments 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, and is often mentioned as a classic sociological study. The book pioneered modern social research and served to distinguish social science from psychology and political philosophy.
In The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, 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 that is common to all religions and goes beyond the concepts of spirituality and God.
Durkheim defined religion as
A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, i.e., things set apart and forbidden—beliefs and practices which unite in one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them.— Émile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, Book 1, Ch. 1
In this definition, Durkheim avoids references to supernatural 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 that give little importance to the concept of god exist, such as Buddhism, where the Four Noble Truths are much more important than any individual deity. With that, Durkheim argues, we are left with the following three concepts: the sacred (the ideas that cannot be properly explained, inspire awe and are considered worthy of spiritual respect or devotion), the beliefs and practices (which create highly emotional state—collective effervescence—and invest symbols with sacred importance), and the moral community (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:
...simply collective ideals that have fixed themselves on material objects... they are only collective forces hypostasized, that is to say, moral forces; they are made up of the ideas and sentiments awakened in us by the spectacle of society, and not of sensations coming from the physical world.— Émile Durkheim
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. Durkheim saw the religion as a force that emerged in the early hunter and gatherer societies, as the emotions collective effervescence 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, Durkheim also believed that religion was becoming less important, as it was being gradually superseded by science and the cult of an individual.
Thus there is something eternal in religion that is destined to outlive the succession of particular symbols in which religious thought has clothed itself.— Émile Durkheim
However, even if the religion was losing its importance for Durkheim, it still laid the foundation of modern society and the interactions that governed it. And despite the advent of alternative forces, Durkheim argued that no replacement for the force of religion had yet been created. He expressed his doubt about 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 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 is defined by being measured through a calendar, 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, the religion of the aboriginal Australians and Native Americans. 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.
Now the totem is the flag of the clan. It is therefore natural that the impressions aroused by the clan in individual minds— impressions of dependence and of increased vitality—should fix themselves to the idea of the totem rather than that of the clan : for the clan is too complex a reality to be represented clearly in all its complex unity by such rudimentary intelligences.— Émile Durkheim, 
Durkheim's work on religion was criticized on both empirical and theoretical grounds by specialists in the field. The most important critique came from Durkheim's contemporary, Arnold van Gennep, an expert on religion and ritual, and also on Australian belief systems. Van Gennep argued that Durkheim's views of primitive peoples and simple societies were "entirely erroneous". Van Gennep further argued that Durkheim demonstrated a lack of critical stance towards his sources, collected by traders and priests, naively accepting their veracity, and that Durkheim interpreted freely from dubious data. At the conceptual level, van Gennep pointed out Durkheim's tendency to press ethnography into a prefabricated theoretical scheme.
Despite such critiques, Durkheim's work on religion has been widely praised for its theoretical insight and whose arguments and propositions, according to Robert Alun Jones, "have stimulated the interest and excitement of several generations of sociologists irrespective of theoretical 'school' or field of specialization".
While Durkheim's work deals with a number of subjects, including suicide, the family, social structures, and social institutions, a large part of his work deals with the sociology of knowledge.
While publishing short articles on the subject earlier in his career (for example the essay De quelques formes primitives de classification written in 1902 with Marcel Mauss), Durkheim's definitive statement concerning the sociology of knowledge comes in his 1912 magnum opus The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. This book has as its goal not only the elucidation of the social origins and function of religion, but also the social origins and impact of society on language and logical thought. Durkheim worked largely out of a Kantian framework and sought to understand how the concepts and categories of logical thought could arise out of social life. He argued, for example, that the categories of space and time were not a priori. Rather, the category of space depends on a society's social grouping and geographical use of space, and a group's social rhythm that determines our understanding of time. In this Durkheim sought to combine elements of rationalism and empiricism, arguing that certain aspects of logical thought common to all humans did exist, but that they were products of collective life (thus contradicting the tabla rasa empiricist understanding whereby categories are acquired by individual experience alone), and that they were not universal a priori's (as Kant argued) since the content of the categories differed from society to society.
Another key elements to Durkheim's theory of knowledge is his concept of représentations collectives (collective representations), which is outlined in The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. Représentations collectives are the symbols and images that come to represent the ideas, beliefs, and values elaborated by a collectivity and are not reducible to individual constituents. They can include words, slogans, ideas, or any number of material items that can serve as a symbol, such as a cross, a rock, a temple, a feather etc. As Durkheim elaborates, représentations collectives are created through intense social interaction and are products of collective activity. As such these representations have the particular, and somewhat contradictory, aspect that they exist externally to the individual (since they are created and controlled not by the individual but by society as a whole), and yet simultaneously within each individual of the society (by virtue of that individual's participation within society).
Arguably the most important "représentation collective" is language, which according to Durkheim is a product of collective action. And because language is a collective action, language contains within it a history of accumulated knowledge and experience that no individual would be capable of creating on their own. As Durkheim says, 'représentations collectives', and language in particular:
add to that which we can learn by our own personal experience all that wisdom and science which the group has accumulated in the course of centuries. Thinking by concepts, is not merely seeing reality on its most general side, but it is projecting a light upon the sensation which illuminates it, penetrates it and transforms it.
As such, language, as a social product, literally structures and shapes our experience of reality. This discursive approach to language and society would be developed by later French philosophers, such as Michel Foucault.
Durkheim defines morality as "a system of rules for conduct". His analysis of morality is strongly marked by Immanuel Kant and his notion of duty. While Durkheim was influenced by Kant, he was highly critical of aspects of the latter's moral theory and developed his own positions.
Durkheim agrees with Kant that within morality, there is an element of obligation, "a moral authority which, by manifesting itself in certain precepts particularly important to it, confers upon [moral rules] an obligatory character". Morality tells us how to act from a position of superiority. There exists a certain, pre-established moral norm to which we must conform. It is through this view that Durkheim makes a first critique of Kant in saying that moral duties originate in society, and are not to be found in some universal moral concept such as the categorical imperative. Durkheim also argues that morality is characterized not just by this obligation, but is also something that is desired by the individual. The individual believes that by adhering to morality, they are serving the common Good, and for this reason, the individual submits voluntarily to the moral commandment.
However, in order to accomplish its aims, morality must be legitimate in the eyes of those to whom it speaks. As Durkheim argues, this moral authority is primarily to be located in religion, which is why in any religion one finds a code of morality. For Durkheim, it is only society that has the resources, the respect, and the power to cultivate within an individual both the obligatory and the desirous aspects of morality.
Durkheim thought that deviance was an essential component of a functional society. He believed that deviance had three possible effects on society. First, Durkheim thought that deviance could challenge the perspective and thoughts of the general population, leading to social change by pointing out a flaw in society. Secondly, deviant acts could also support existing social norms and beliefs by evoking the population to discipline the actors. Finally, Durkheim believed that reactions to deviant activity could increase camaraderie and social support among the population affected by the activity. Durkheim's thoughts on deviance contributed to Robert Merton's Strain Theory 
Durkheim had an important impact on the development of Anthropology and Sociology, influencing thinkers from his school of sociology, such as Marcel Mauss, but also later thinkers, such as Maurice Halbwachs, Talcott Parsons, Alfred Radcliffe-Brown, and Claude Lévi-Strauss. More recently, Durkheim has influenced sociologists such as Steven Lukes, Robert N. Bellah, and Pierre Bourdieu. His description of collective consciousness also deeply influenced the Turkish nationalism of Ziya Gökalp, the founding father of Turkish sociology. Randall Collins has developed a theory of what he calls interaction ritual chains, which is a synthesis of Durkheim's work on religion with Erving Goffman's micro-sociology. Goffman himself was also deeply influenced by Durkheim in his development of the interaction order.
Outside of sociology, he influenced philosophers Henri Bergson and Emmanuel Levinas, and his ideas can be found latently in the work of certain structuralist thinkers of the 60s, such as Alain Badiou, Louis Althusser, and Michel Foucault.
Much of Durkheim's work, however, remains unacknowledged in philosophy, despite its direct relevance. As proof one can look to John Searle, who wrote a book The Construction of Social Reality, in which he elaborates a theory of social facts and collective representations that he believed to be a landmark work that would bridge the gap between analytic and continental philosophy. Neil Gross however, demonstrates how Searle's views on society are more or less a reconstitution of Durkheim's theories of social facts, social institutions, collective representations and the like. Searle's ideas are thus open to the same criticisms as Durkheim's. Searle responded by saying that Durkheim's work was worse than he had originally believed, and, admitting that he had not read much of Durkheim's work, said that, "Because Durkheim’s account seemed so impoverished I did not read any further in his work." Stephen Lukes, however, responded to Searle's response to Gross and refutes point by point the allegations that Searle makes against Durkheim, essentially upholding the argument of Gross, that Searle's work bears great resemblance to that of Durkheim's. Lukes attributes Searle's miscomprehension of Durkheim's work to the fact that Searle, quite simply, never read Durkheim.
A contemporary philosopher of social phenomena who has offered a sympathetic close reading of Durkheim's discussion of social facts in chapter 1 and the prefaces of The Rules of Sociological Method is Margaret Gilbert. In chapter 4, section 2, of her 1989 book On Social Facts (whose title may represent an homage to Durkheim, alluding to his "faits sociaux") Gilbert argues that some of his statements that may seem to be philosophically untenable are important and fruitful.
Altruistic suicide is sacrifice of one's life to save or benefit others, for the good of the group, or to preserve the traditions and honor of a society. It is always intentional. Benevolent suicide refers to the self sacrifice of one's own life for the sake of the greater good. Such sacrifice may be for the sake of executing a particular action, or for the sake of keeping a natural balance in the society. It is a theme or concept of a custom of sacrifice typically found within certain types of science fiction stories. However, real examples of these customs have been recorded to exist among some indigenous people, such as certain Inuit tribes. This was seen by Émile Durkheim in his study Suicide as the product of over-integration with society.In contrast a "sacrifice" committed by force of a state is instead referred to as eugenics or mass murder, but may be otherwise referred to as "enforced population limits" or "population control". In literature, examples may promote the concept as a means for ending enduring types of social conflict, or else deride the concept as an example of a dystopian future society.André Lalande (philosopher)
André Lalande (19 July, 1867 Dijon – 15 November, 1964 Asnières) was a French philosopher. In 1904 he was appointed Professor of philosophy at the University of Paris.Whilst still at school in 1883-4 he was taught by Émile Durkheim, who he greatly appreciated. His notes have provided the basis for the publication Durkheim's Philosophy Lectures: Notes from the Lycée de Sens Course, 1883–1884 in 2004.His doctoral thesis was entitled L'idée directrice de la dissolution opposée à celle de l'évolution. In 1901 he was one of the founders of the French Philosophical Society.Anomie
Anomie () is a "condition in which society provides little moral guidance to individuals". This evolves from conflict of belief systems and causes breakdown of social bonds between an individual and the community (both economic and primary socialization). In a person this can progress into a dysfunctional ability to integrate within normative situations of their social world e.g., an unruly personal scenario that results in fragmentation of social identity and rejection of values.The term is commonly understood to mean normlessness, and believed to have been popularized by French sociologist Émile Durkheim in his influential book Suicide (1897). However, Durkheim first introduces the concept of anomie in his 1893 work The Division of Labour In Society. Durkheim never used the term normlessness; rather, he described anomie as "derangement", and "an insatiable will". Durkheim used the term "the malady of the infinite" because desire without limit can never be fulfilled; it only becomes more intense.For Durkheim, anomie arises more generally from a mismatch between personal or group standards and wider social standards, or from the lack of a social ethic, which produces moral deregulation and an absence of legitimate aspirations. This is a nurtured condition:
Most sociologists associate the term with Durkheim, who used the concept to speak of the ways in which an individual's actions are matched, or integrated, with a system of social norms and practices … anomie is a mismatch, not simply the absence of norms. Thus, a society with too much rigidity and little individual discretion could also produce a kind of anomie ...Charles Renouvier
Charles Bernard Renouvier (French: [ʁənuvje]; January 1, 1815 – September 1, 1903) was a French philosopher. He considered himself a "Swedenborg of history" who sought to update the philosophy of Kantian liberalism and individualism for the socio-economic realities of the late nineteenth century, and influenced the sociological method of Émile Durkheim.Collective consciousness
Collective consciousness, collective conscience, or collective conscious (French: conscience collective) is the set of shared beliefs, ideas, and moral attitudes which operate as a unifying force within society. The term was introduced by the French sociologist Émile Durkheim in his The Division of Labour in Society in 1893.
The French word conscience generally means "conscience", "consciousness", "awareness", or "perception". Commentators and translators of Durkheim disagree on which is most appropriate, or whether the translation should depend on the context. Some prefer to treat the word 'conscience' as an untranslatable foreign word or technical term, without its normal English meaning. In general, it does not refer to the specifically moral conscience, but to a shared understanding of social norms.As for "collective", Durkheim makes clear that he is not reifying or hypostasizing this concept; for him, it is "collective" simply in the sense that it is common to many individuals; cf. social fact.Collective effervescence
Collective effervescence (CE) is a sociological concept coined by Émile Durkheim. According to Durkheim, a community or society may at times come together and simultaneously communicate the same thought and participate in the same action. Such an event then causes collective effervescence which excites individuals and serves to unify the group.Georges Davy
Georges Davy (French: [davi]; 31 December 1883, Bernay – 27 July 1976, Coutances) was a French sociologist. He was a student and disciple of Émile Durkheim. With Marcel Mauss and Paul Huvelin he pioneered anthropological studies of the origins of the idea of contract.L'Année Sociologique
L'Année Sociologique is an academic journal of sociology established in 1898 by Émile Durkheim, who also served as its editor. It was published annually until 1925, changing its name to Annales Sociologiques between 1934 and 1942. After World War II it returned to its original name. Durkheim established the journal as a way of publicizing his own research and the research of his students and other scholars working within his new sociological paradigm.Marcel Mauss
Marcel Mauss (French: [mos]; 10 May 1872 – 10 February 1950) was a French sociologist. The nephew of Émile Durkheim, Mauss' academic work traversed the boundaries between sociology and anthropology. Today, he is perhaps better recognised for his influence on the latter discipline, particularly with respect to his analyses of topics such as magic, sacrifice, and gift exchange in different cultures around the world. Mauss had a significant influence upon Claude Lévi-Strauss, the founder of structural anthropology. His most famous book is The Gift (1925).Mechanical and organic solidarity
In sociology, "mechanical solidarity" and "organic solidarity" are the concepts of solidarity as developed by Émile Durkheim. Durkheim introduced the terms "mechanical" and "organic solidarity" as part of his theory of the development of societies in The Division of Labour in Society (1893). According to Durkheim, the types of social solidarity correlate with types of society, which are mechanical and organic societies.
In a society exhibiting mechanical solidarity, its cohesion and integration comes from the homogeneity of individuals—people feel connected through similar work, educational and religious training, and lifestyle. Mechanical solidarity normally operates in "traditional" and small-scale societies. In simpler societies (e.g., tribal), solidarity is usually based on kinship ties of familial networks.
Organic solidarity comes from the interdependence that arises from specialization of work and the complementarities between people—a development which occurs in modern and industrial societies. It is social cohesion based upon the dependence individuals have on each other in more advanced societies. Although individuals perform different tasks and often have different values and interests, the order and very solidarity of society depends on their reliance on each other to perform their specified tasks. Thus, social solidarity is maintained in more complex societies through the interdependence of its component parts (e.g., farmers produce the food to feed the factory workers who produce the tractors that allow the farmer to produce the food).
The two types of solidarity can be distinguished by morphological and demographic features, type of norms in existence, and the intensity and content of the conscience collective.Sacred–profane dichotomy
The sacred–profane dichotomy is an idea posited by French sociologist Émile Durkheim, who considered it to be the central characteristic of religion: "religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden." In Durkheim's theory, the sacred represented the interests of the group, especially unity, which were embodied in sacred group symbols, or totems. The profane, on the other hand, involved mundane individual concerns. Durkheim explicitly stated that the sacred–profane dichotomy was not equivalent to good/evil. The sacred could be good or evil, and the profane could be either as well.Durkheim's claim of the universality of this dichotomy for all religions/cults has been criticized by scholars such as British anthropologist Jack Goody. Goody also noted that "many societies have no words that translate as sacred or profane and that ultimately, just like the distinction between natural and supernatural, it was very much a product of European religious thought rather than a universally applicable criterion".As Tomoko Masuzawa explains in The Invention of World Religions: Or, How European Universalism Was Preserved in the Language of Pluralism, this system of comparative religion privileged Christianity at the expense of non-Christian systems (2005). Any cosmology without a sacred/profane binary was rendered invisible by the field of religious studies, because the binary was supposed to be 'universal'.Social fact
In sociology, social facts are values, cultural norms, and social structures that transcend the individual and can exercise social control. The French sociologist Émile Durkheim defined the term, and argued that the discipline of sociology should be understood as the empirical study of social facts. For Durkheim, social facts "... consist of manners of acting, thinking and feeling external to the individual, which are invested with a coercive power by virtue of which they exercise control over him."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. It is not a specialized area of sociology but instead deals with broad fundamental questions about the extent and limits of social influences on individuals' lives and the social-cultural basics of our knowledge about the world. Complementary to the sociology of knowledge is the sociology of ignorance, including the study of nescience, ignorance, knowledge gaps, or non-knowledge as inherent features of knowledge making.The sociology of knowledge was pioneered primarily by the sociologist Émile Durkheim at beginning of the 20th century. His work deals directly with how conceptual thought, language, and logic could be influenced by the sociological milieu out of which they arise. In an early work co-written with Marcel Mauss, Primitive Classification, Durkheim and Mauss take a study of "primitive" group mythology to argue that systems of classification are collectively based and that the divisions with these systems are derived from social categories. Later, Durkheim in The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life would elaborate his theory of knowledge, examining how language and the concepts and categories (such as space and time) used in logical thought have a sociological origin. While neither Durkheim, nor Mauss, specifically coined nor used the term 'sociology of knowledge', their work is an important first contribution to the field.
The specific term 'sociology of knowledge' is said to have been in widespread use since the 1920s, when a number of German-speaking sociologists, most notably Max Scheler and Karl Mannheim, wrote extensively on sociological aspects of knowledge. With the dominance of functionalism through the middle years of the 20th century, the sociology of knowledge tended to remain on the periphery of mainstream sociological thought. It was largely reinvented and applied much more closely to everyday life in the 1960s, particularly by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann in The Social Construction of Reality (1966) and is still central for methods dealing with qualitative understanding of human society (compare socially constructed reality). The 'genealogical' and 'archaeological' studies of Michel Foucault are of considerable contemporary influence.Solidarism
Solidarism or solidarist can refer to:
The term "solidarism" is applied to the sociopolitical thought advanced by Léon Bourgeois based on ideas by the sociologist Émile Durkheim which is loosely applied to a leading social philosophy operative during and within the French Third Republic prior to the First World War.
A member of the American Solidarity Party, a minor Christian Democratic party in the United States, is often referred to as a "Solidarist"
"Social Catholicism" or the application of the Catholic social teaching as outlined in the papal social encyclicals and promoted by Heinrich Pesch (1854-1926) in his Teaching Guide to Economics.
The Swedish system of labor arrangement in which labor unions and capitalists jointly set wages below market clearing levels. From this arrangement, labor receives full employment and wage leveling, while capitalists pay less for labor, and do not have to worry about their employees being "poached" by firms who can offer more. This arrangement is traditionally enforced through employer organizations. The arrangement is destabilized during economic booms, when firms cheat on the system and surreptitiously raise "compensation", rather than pay, in the form of increased benefits, safety, or other forms of indirect payment.
Among the French far-right, solidarism refers to a tendency which was headed by Jean-Pierre Stirbois and Michel Collinot (French Solidarist Movement). Solidarists support a non-capitalist, non-communist "third way", and are generally opponents of the influence of both the Soviet Union and the United States. It was recently an influence of the Radical Network. National Front member Roger Holeindre claims to follow this tendency.
An element within the White movement in Russia opposed to Communism and seeking a Christian alternative to collectivism was called the National Alliance of Russian Solidarists.Solidarity
Solidarity is unity (as of a group or class) that produces or is based on unities of interests, objectives, standards, and sympathies. It refers to the ties in a society that bind people together as one. The term is generally employed in sociology, and the other social sciences as well as in philosophy or in Catholic social teaching. In addition, solidarity is a core concept in Christian democratic political ideology.What forms the basis of solidarity varies between societies. In simple societies it may be mainly based on kinship and shared values. In more complex societies there are various theories as to what contributes to a sense of social solidarity.Solidarity is also one of six principles of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and December 20th of each year is International Human Solidarity Day recognized as an international observance.Suicide (book)
Suicide (French: Le suicide) is an 1897 book written by French sociologist Émile Durkheim. It was the first methodological study of a social fact in the context of society. It is ostensibly a case study of suicide, a publication unique for its time that provided an example of what the sociological monograph should look like.The Division of Labour in Society
The Division of Labour in Society (French: De la division du travail social) is the doctoral dissertation of the French sociologist Émile Durkheim, published in 1893. It was influential in advancing sociological theories and thought, with ideas which in turn were influenced by Auguste Comte. Durkheim described how social order was maintained in societies based on two very different forms of solidarity – mechanical and organic – and the transition from more "primitive" societies to advanced industrial societies.
Durkheim suggested that in a "primitive" society, mechanical solidarity, with people acting and thinking alike and with a shared collective conscience, is what allows social order to be maintained. In such a society, Durkheim viewed crime as an act that "offends strong and defined states of the collective conscience" though he viewed crime as a normal social fact. Because social ties are relatively homogeneous and weak throughout a mechanical society, the law has to be repressive and penal to respond to offences of the common conscience.
In an advanced, industrial, capitalist society, the complex system of division of labour means that people are allocated in society according to merit and rewarded accordingly: social inequality reflects natural inequality, at least in the case that there is complete equity in the society. Durkheim argued that moral regulation was needed, as well as economic regulation, to maintain order (or organic solidarity) in society. In fact this regulation forms naturally in response to the division of labor, allowing people to "compose their differences peaceably". In this type of society, law would be more restitutive than penal, seeking to restore rather than punish excessively.
He thought that transition of a society from "primitive" to advanced may bring about major disorder, crisis, and anomie. However, once society has reached the "advanced" stage, it becomes much stronger and is done developing. Unlike Karl Marx, Durkheim did not foresee any different society arising out of the industrial capitalist division of labour. He regarded conflict, chaos, and disorder as pathological phenomena to modern society, whereas Marx highlights class conflict.The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life
The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (French: Les formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse), published by the French sociologist Émile Durkheim in 1912, is a book that analyzes religion as a social phenomenon. Durkheim attributes the development of religion to the emotional security attained through communal living. His study of totemic societies in Australia led to a conclusion that the animal or plant that each clan worshipped as a sacred power was in fact that society itself. Halfway through the text, Durkheim inquisites that, "So if [the totem animal] is at once the symbol of the god and of the society, is that not because the god and the society are only one?"According to Durkheim, early humans associated such feelings not only with one another, but as well with objects in their environment. This, Durkheim believed, led to the ascription of human sentiments and superhuman powers to these objects, in turn leading to totemism. The essence of religion, Durkheim finds, is the concept of the sacred, the only phenomenon which unites all religions. "A religion," writes Durkheim, "is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden—beliefs and practices which unite into a single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them." Durkheim concludes:
In summing up, then, we must say that society is not at all the illogical or a-logical, incoherent and fantastic being which it has too often been considered. Quite on the contrary, the collective consciousness is the highest form of the psychic life, since it is the consciousness of the consciousnesses. Being placed outside of and above individual and local contingencies, it sees things only in their permanent and essential aspects, which it crystallizes into communicable ideas. At the same time that it sees from above, it sees farther ; at every moment of time, it embraces all known reality ; that is why it alone can furnish the mind with the moulds which are applicable to the totality of things and which make it possible to think of them. It does not create these moulds artificially ; it finds them within itself ; it does nothing but become conscious of them.(445)
Durkheim means that the symbolization of the collective consciousness is done through the totemic animal. It is through this 'flag' that Australian Aboriginals become conscious of themselves within a system of knowledge given by the group itself.Durkheim examined religion using such examples as Pueblo Indian rain dances, the religions of aboriginal tribes in Australia, and alcoholic hallucinations.The Rules of Sociological Method
The Rules of Sociological Method (French: Les Règles de la Méthode Sociologique) 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 of sociology. Durkheim distinguishes sociology from other sciences and justifies his rationale. Sociology is the science of social facts. Durkheim suggests two central theses, without which sociology would not be a science:
It must have a specific object of study. Unlike philosophy or psychology, sociology's proper object of study are social facts.
It must respect and apply a recognized objective scientific method, bringing it as close as possible to the other exact sciences. This method must at all cost avoid prejudice and subjective judgment.This book was one of the defining books for the new science of sociology. Durkheim's argument that social sciences should be approached with the same rigorous scientific method as used in natural sciences was seen as revolutionary for the time.The Rules is seen as an important text in sociology and is a popular book on sociological theory courses. The book's meaning is still being debated by sociologists.