Emile Durkheim

Durkheim, Émile

Émile Durkheim (dûrk´hīm, Fr. āmēl´ dürkĕm´), 1858–1917, French sociologist. Along with Max Weber he is considered one of the chief founders of modern sociology. Educated in France and Germany, Durkheim taught social science at the Univ. of Bordeaux and the Sorbonne. His view that the methods of natural science can be applied to the study of society was influenced by the positivist philosophy of Auguste Comte. Durkheim held that the collective mind of society was the source of religion and morality and that the common values developed in society, particularly in primitive societies, are the cohesive bonds of social order. In more complex societies, he suggests, the division of labor makes for cohesiveness, but the loss of commonly held values leads to social instability and disorientation of the individual. Durkheim studied suicide to show the importance of anomie, the loss of morale that accompanies decline in social identity. To support his theories he drew extensively on anthropological and statistical materials. His important works include The Division of Labor in Society (1893, tr. 1933), The Rules of Sociological Method (1895, tr. 1938), Le Suicide (1897), and The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912, tr. 1915).

See biographies by S. Lukes (1985) and M. Fournier (2012); studies by S. Lukes (1972), R. A. Nisbet (1965 and 1974), N. Smelser (1963), and D. La Capra (1985).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Emile Durkheim: Selected full-text books and articles

Emile Durkheim
Ken Thompson.
Routledge, 2002 (Revised edition)
The Division of Labor in Society
Emile Durkheim; George Simpson.
Free Press, 1947
The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life
Emile Durkheim; Joseph Ward Swain.
Free Press, 1965
Emile Durkheim, 1858-1917: A Collection of Essays, with Translations and a Bibliography
Emile Durkheim; Kurt H. Wolff.
Ohio State University Press, 1960
On Durkheim's Elementary Forms of Religious Life
N. J. Allen; W. S.F. Pickering; W. Watts Miller.
Routledge, 1998
Durkheim's Suicide: A Century of Research and Debate
W. S. F. Pickering; Geoffrey Walford.
Routledge, 2000
Durkheim, Morals and Modernity
W.Watts Miller.
UCL Press, 1996
Emile Durkheim: Sociologist and Moralist
Stephen P. Turner.
Routledge, 1993
The Development of Durkheim's Social Realism
Robert Alun Jones.
Cambridge University Press, 1999
Sociology after the Crisis
Charles Lemert.
Westview Press, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Modernity's Riddle and Durkheim's Lost Fathers"
The Classical Roots of Ethnomethodology: Durkheim, Weber, and Garfinkel
Richard A. Hilbert.
University of North Carolina Press, 1992
A History of Sociological Analysis
Tom Bottomore; Robert Nisbet.
Basic Books, 1978
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "Emile Durkheim"
Sacred Revolutions: Durkheim and the Collège de Sociologie
Michèle H. Richman.
University of Minnesota Press, 2002
Eight Theories of Religion
Daniel L. Pals.
Oxford University Press, 2006 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Society as Sacred: Emile Durkheim"
Durkheim Today
W. S. F. Pickering.
Berghahn Books, 2002
Teaching Durkheim
Terry F. Godlove Jr.
Oxford University Press, 2005
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