Introduction To Sociology 10:10am


Emile Durkheim
By Kyle Molstad and Tanner Corder

Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) was a French born sociologist as was considered by many people and sociologist to be the “father of sociology”. He stressed that people are the product of their social environment and that behavior cannot be understood fully in terms of individual biological and psychological traits according to Sociology in our times. He is assumed with making sociology a science, and having made it part of the French academic curriculum as "Science Sociale". During his lifetime, Emile Durkheim gave many lectures, and published a bunch of sociological studies on subjects such as religion, suicide, and all aspects of society.

Emile Durkheim was born on April 15, 1858 in Lorraine, France. Since Emile's father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had all been jewish rabbis, Emile was expected to do just the same, so then he was sent to a Rabbi school. However, things did not turn out as planned when Emile moved to Paris.

When he was in his early teens, Durkheim took an interest in Catholicism, which was very frowned upon by the Jews. This also led to his abandonment of the jewish religion. He chose to study his religion from the agnostic side of things. Durkheim was a brilliant student, and was awarded several prizes and honors during his life. He was very smart as I previously stated and he was able to graduate and earn his academic honors at a very early age. Durkheim's father then had become sick and he was staying in a French nursing home which made him quite depressed. Durkheim worked hard and attended various elite institutions of study in his upcoming years.

In 1887, Emile Durkheim married Louise Dreyfus, with whom he had a son Andre, and later a daughter Marie. It was also that same year that Durkheim was appointed "Chargé des Cours de Pédagogie et de Sciences Sociales" which meant he was in charge of the social scinces at Bordeaux. The Sciences Sociales part of the appointment was a perfect fit for Durkheim's new ideas, and led to sociology becoming part of the French academic curriculum.

Although he stressed the importance of socialism in philosophy, law, and history, Emile Durkheim faced opposition from the humanist Faculty of Letters members, who were somewhat afraid that his distinct explanations of legal and moral institutions through reference to purely social causes threatened volition and individual moral duty. Nonetheless, Durkheim did manage to make friends and allies of some of his colleagues, particularily with philosophers Octave Hamelin, and Georges Rodier, who both helped promote Durkheim's rationalist ideas in opposition to the intuitionism, and mysticism, which were now losing their appeal.

While he was at Bordeaux, Emile Durkheim lectured on the history and practice of education, in this excerpt from his 1888 "Course in Sociology: Opening Lecture", he states "…by becoming more specialized, science comes closer to things which are themselves specialized according to His social science courses and public lectures focused of the study of law, religion, and socialism, and the more specific issues crime, incest, kinship, totemism, and suicide.

In 1893 Emile published his first book, The Division of Labor in Society, where he brought up the concept of "anomie" which describes the breaking down of the influence of social norms on individuals within a society.

In 1894 he was permanently appointed associate professor at Bordeaux. In 1895, he published his second work The Rules of Sociological Method. In 1897 he published his third major book and maybe his most famous. It was entitled, Suicide : A Study in Sociology. This idea was proclaimed a twenty first century idea. One quote from his work is very strong; “The bond attaching (people) to life slackens because the bond which attaches (them) to society itself slack.” This is just some of the remarkable things that was in this book.

Two years later, he established an important journalistic collaboration program, which was France's first Social Science Journal ever. Durkheim was later appointed Professeur at the Sorbonne and would later take over the chair of "Science of Education and Sociology" at this institute.

In 1912, Durkheim published his fourth publication, Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. His lectures then became required curriculum for all philosophy, literature, and history students. Durkheim also stated to educate the next generation of teachers who were very glad to follow in his footsteps.

Durkheim was discriminated against as being Jewish with a German name which we find to be a very funny and odd combonation but Emile still managed to remain quite patriotic despite his health trying to fail him, and the terrible loss of his son Andre who was fighting on the Bulgarian front in 1916. Durkheim was so upset and distraught by the loss of his son that he demanded that no one speak his name in Durkheim’s presence. The tragedy also motivated Durkheim to become more involved in first world war up until he suffered a stroke during one of his speeches.

On November 15, 1917 Emile Durkheim died at the age of 59. He will forever be remembered as one of the greatest sociologist and will always hold the crown of “The Father of Sociology.” His books may have originally been written in French but have since then been converted to many languages and allowed all types of people to realize his brilliance.

Works Cited

Kendal, Diana. Sociology in Our Times: The Essentials.

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