Emile Durkheim and The Science of Sociology

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Emile Durkheim was born in France in April of 1858 and died in November of 1917. He was from a close Jewish community that he continued to be close to even after breaking with the Jewish church. Having come from a long family line of rabbis, he had planned to follow in that profession. Durkheim was known as the Father of Sociology. He was a liberal, a modernist, and a nationalist. He was a very ambitious man; this ambition was illustrated by the accomplishments he made over the course of his life.

During the conflict surrounding the Dreyfus Affair, Durkheim used the new field of sociology to try to make sense of society and the world around him. The Dreyfus Affair was a government cover up framing a Jewish captain named Dreyfus. It turned into a political scandal splitting the people of France. As Collins & Makowsky (2010) stated, doing this allowed him to discover that “society is a ritual order, a collective conscience founded on the emotional rhythms of human interaction” (p. 92). The students at the University of Paris were not exempt from conflict and the professors gave lectures for the Dreyfusard cause. He was one of the most renowned of the professors at the University of Paris at the time. He went to Wilhelm Wundt’s laboratory to investigate the social sciences though he accepted Comte’s sociology over psychology. He wanted to take sociology and do what Wundt had done with psychology. Durkheim wanted sociology to be a researchable science instead of a philosophy. He became a professor at the Ecole Normale and then became the first chair of the science of Sociology in the early 1900’s. Durkheim published several works on different topics in sociology including suicide, religion, and the ...

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Religion was seen from the perspective of its impact on society and life. It was broken down into sacred and profane then beliefs and rites. He looks at the division of labor by looking at solidarity. He discusses two types of solidarity which are mechanical and organic solidarity.

Works Cited

Collins, R., & Makowsky, M. (2010). The Discovery of Society (8th ed.). New York, New York:


Durkheim, E. (1951). Suicide: A Study in Sociology. (J. A. Spaulding, & G. Simpson, Trans.)

United States: The Free Press.

Durkheim, E. (1984). The Division of Labor in Society. (W. Halls, Trans.) New York, New

York: The Free Press.

Durkheim, E. (1965). The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. New York, New York: The

Free Press.

Jones, R. A. (2009, March 19). Durkheim homepage. Retrieved from The Durkheim Pages:


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