Emile Durkheim, 1858-1917: A Collection of Essays, with Translations and a Bibliography

By Emile Durkheim; Kurt H. Wolff | Go to book overview

DURKHEIM IN AMERICAN SOCIOLOGY

ROSCOE C. JR. HINKLE

Despite their commonly acknowledged indebtedness to Sigmund Freud, Vilfredo, Pareto, Max Weber, and Emile Durkheim, American sociologists have just begun actual study of these European influences on their discipline in this country.1 Recently, investigations of the impact of Freud and Weber have been reported.2 In turn, this paper attempts to redress the neglect of Durkheim. It examines the role of changing intellectual orientations in the varying reactions of American sociology to Durkheim, just as the previously noted inquiry did for Freud.

The original plan for a comprehensive study of all published statements about Durkheim which can be found in the history of the discipline in the United States was altered only because the proliferation of the literature since the Second World War would have required a paper of excessive length. Consequently, analysis has been confined to three periods prior to 1940: 1890- 1917, 1918-29, and 1930-39.3 Despite this delimitation, the inquiry should be significant to sociologists who share the current interest in Durkheim, which appears to have developed in the 1930's, along with many of the prevailing theoretical and methodological trends.

During the period 1890-1917, few European sociologists were more generally disregarded and less enthusiastically received by American sociology than Durkheim. Of his major studies, only the second edition of De la division du travail social and The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life were reviewed in the American Journal of Sociology, then the sole periodical in the field.4 Although he was among its foreign editors, he never contributed an article--in conspicuous contrast to Georg Simmel. His participation was limited to a letter to the editor protesting Tosti's misinterpretation of his position, and the abstract of a paper which he delivered at the London School of Economics in 1904.5 Furthermore, only three articles primarily devoted to analyses of Durkheim were published between 1895 and 1917, and not one was written by an American

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