In This Article Émile Durkheim

  • Introduction
  • Biographies
  • Major Book-Length Studies/Collections
  • Collections of Writings
  • Undergraduate Summary Texts
  • Journals and Special Issues
  • Education and Pedagogy
  • Social Solidarity, Law, and the Division of Labor
  • Sociology as Science and Method
  • Social Integration, Moral Regulation, and Suicide
  • Politics, Socialism, and the State
  • The Family, Women, and Gender
  • Religion and Culture
  • Sociology of Knowledge
  • Morality
  • Historical and Social Context of the Durkheimian/Annee Sociologique School

Sociology Émile Durkheim
by
Alexander Riley
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 July 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0014

Introduction

David Émile Durkheim was born on 15 April 1858, in Épinal, France, in the region of Lorraine. His influential, conservative Jewish family had lived in the region for several generations. His father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were rabbis, and there were family expectations that Durkheim, too, would follow that same career path. In 1879, Durkheim entered the École Normale Supérieure, the most prestigious French post-secondary institution and the training ground for most of the country’s intellectual elite. He took the agrégation (French state teaching certificate) in 1882 and assumed his first teaching post at Sens a year later. In 1887, he was taken on as a lecturer at the University of Bordeaux. By the turn of the century, he was widely acclaimed as one of the most important thinkers in France and the leader of the effort to establish sociology as a new scholarly discipline. Before the turn of the century, he had published three of the four major books he wrote during his lifetime and launched the first great journal of sociological research, l’Année Sociologique. In 1902, he was elected as chargé de cours at the Sorbonne, and by 1906 he had been appointed to a chair there. When he died in 1917, during the dark days of the Great War, he had already established a legacy as one of the founding thinkers in sociology.

Biographies

Somewhat surprisingly, given his status in the discipline, only two major, book-length biographies of Durkheim have been undertaken. The book by Steven Lukes 1985 was for many years the unchallenged “go-to” work; it contains one of the most extensive extant bibliographies and several useful appendices that lay out Durkheim’s lecture courses over his years at both Bordeaux and Paris, as well as the record of his comments on the doctoral theses of students. The recent publication of a massive (nearly one thousand pages) biographical study by Marcel Fournier 2007 displaces Lukes as the most comprehensive work. Fournier consulted a great deal of archival material, including volumes of correspondence, that were unavailable to Lukes, in order to sketch Durkheim’s public and private lives in fascinating detail. The other biographical sources listed here offer direct insights into Durkheim’s private world through correspondences or present information from those in his intimate circle (his nephew Mauss 1925, his Année Sociologique collaborator Davy 1919). The volumes of letters from Durkheim to Mauss and Hubert, found in Durkheim 1998 and Besnard 1987, are particularly fascinating sources. The Sorbonne commemoration of Durkheim’s centennial in 1960 included comments from Davy and André Lalande, a philosopher who was appointed to the Sorbonne shortly after Durkheim (see Lalande 1960). Greenberg 1976 compares Durkheim’s assimilation as a Jew in France with that of Henri Bergson, who was his schoolmate and a rival in the philosophical world of that period. For nonspecialists seeking a brief and accurate source, a very good biographical statement can be found in Marcel Fournier’s chapter in The Cambridge Companion to Durkheim (which is described in the section on Major Book-Length Studies/Collections).

  • Durkheim, Émile. 1998. Lettres à Marcel Mauss. Edited by Philippe Besnard and Marcel Fournier. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

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    Dense volume of correspondence (only one way, as Mauss’s letters to Durkheim disappeared with the rest of his papers during the Vichy period) expertly introduced by Besnard and Fournier, two of the most reliable French-speaking interpreters of Durkheim. Often sheds real light on the intellectual work.

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    • Besnard, Philippe, ed. 1987. Lettres de Émile Durkheim à Henri Hubert. Revue Française de Sociologie 28.3: 483–534.

      DOI: 10.2307/3321723E-mail Citation »

      Vivid documentation of organizational work behind the Année, as the contribution of Hubert here was second only to that of Durkheim himself, and certainly equal to that of Mauss during the first series of the journal. Full also of information on Durkheim’s involvement in the Dreyfus Affair.

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      • Davy, Georges. 1919. Émile Durkheim: L’homme. Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 26:181–198.

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        Splendid short portrait of Durkheim by one of the junior members of his Année Sociologique team. Emphasizes the moral commitment of Durkheim the man to family, profession, and country. The article continues in the Revue 27 (1920): 71–112.

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        • Fournier, Marcel. 2007. Émile Durkheim (1858–1917). Paris: Fayard.

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          Deftly uses archival material including correspondences to show the Durkheimian œuvre emerging in both public and private spheres. Surpasses Lukes 1985 in clearly demonstrating how collective Durkheim’s work (and much of the work of the Année) was. It is hoped that an English translation will appear soon.

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          • Greenberg, Louis. 1976. Bergson and Durkheim as sons and assimilators: The early years. French Historical Studies 9.4: 619–634.

            DOI: 10.2307/286208E-mail Citation »

            Fascinating comparison of some early biographical details of the trajectories of Durkheim and his philosophical adversary of the fin de siècle (and, like Durkheim, product of a Jewish family), Henri Bergson.

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            • Lalande, André. Commémoration du centenaire de la naissance d’Émile Durkheim. 1960. Annales de l’Université de Paris 30.1 (January–March), 22–25.

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              Along with Claude Lévi-Strauss’s “Ce que l’ethnologie doit à Durkheim,” this celebration of the centennial of Durkheim’s birth contains vivid biographical speeches by Georges Davy (one of the members of the original Année sociologique team), André Lalande, and René Lacroze.

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              • Lukes, Steven. 1985. Émile Durkheim, his life and work: A historical and critical study. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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                For more than three decades, the only and definitive biography. Lukes consulted much archival material and interviewed family members and others to fill out his portrait, and his interpretation of the general direction of Durkheim’s work is astute and quite defensible. Originally published in 1972.

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                • Mauss, Marcel. 1925. In memoriam: L’oeuvre inédite de Durkheim et de ses collaborateurs. L’Année Sociologique 1:8–29.

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                  Account of the state of Durkheim’s unpublished work (and also the work of fellow Année collaborators who, like Durkheim, perished during the Great War) at the time of his death by his nephew (Mauss) and the Année chief in the wake of his uncle’s passing. Reprinted in Marcel Mauss, Oeuvres, vol. 3, edited by Victor Karady (Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 1969), 473–569.

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                  Major Book-Length Studies/Collections

                  As befits his status as one of the founding thinkers in sociology, Durkheim has generated quite a number of efforts by later scholars to interpret the trajectory and meaning of the entirety of his work. Several acute minds have devoted a great deal of their own intellectual careers to the effort to clarify, expand, and apply the conceptual apparatus developed by Durkheim. Besnard 2003 is the fruit of more than thirty years of careful explication of the meaning of Durkheim’s oeuvre. LaCapra 1972 is informed by a great knowledge of intellectual history and should be read more than it is. Younger scholars have also joined in the interpretive fray more recently, and there is a range of opinion regarding the general philosophical sense of Durkheim’s work. Some (e.g., Jones 2001) have endeavored to frame him as a typically neo-Kantian republican of the Third Republic, while others find in his thought connections to Schopenhauer (Meštrović 1994), existentialism (Tiryakian 1962), or modernist artistic sensibilities (Tiryakian 2009). Alexander and Smith 2005 is perhaps the chief contemporary contribution to reframing Durkheim’s work within the context of the cultural turn in the social sciences of the last several decades. Hamilton 1990 and Hamilton 1995 represent an encyclopedic effort to gauge the state of the scholarship on Durkheim’s work across a wide range of topics, from interpretation of each of the four major books Durkheim published in his lifetime to Durkheim’s place in contemporary social theory. All of the sources cited here are based on sound argumentative strategies, and there is no consensus in the literature but rather a robust culture of debate and dissent.

                  • Alexander, Jeffrey, and Philip Smith, eds. 2005. The Cambridge companion to Durkheim. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                    One of the central texts to consult for contemporary interpretations of Durkheim’s work in view of the cultural turn. Introduction argues powerfully for a “new Durkheim” that would emphasize the late attention to cultural meaning-making, and the various chapters back this up ably.

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                    • Besnard, Philippe. 2003. Études durkheimiennes. Travaux de Sciences Sociales 201. Geneva, Switzerland: Droz.

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                      Wide range of writings on various aspects of the Durkheimian corpus by one of the most authoritative contemporary scholars on Durkheim in the French language. Includes some of the work on Suicide and the Division of Labor discussed in other sections. Besnard had little to say about the late Durkheim’s work on religion and knowledge, but is one of the most precise, highly reliable commentators on all of the earlier texts.

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                      • Hamilton, Peter, ed. 1990. Emile Durkheim: Critical assessments. 4 vols. First series. London: Routledge.

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                        Several thousands of pages of contemporary evaluation of the state of Durkheimian thought on a wide range of topics. Prohibitively expensive but can be found in research libraries. A good number of articles cited in this article can be found in these volumes. Most contributions are solid, though some inconsistency in quality.

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                        • Hamilton, Peter, ed. 1995. Emile Durkheim: Critical assessments. 4 vols. Second Series. London: Routledge.

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                          This followup to Hamiltion 1990 continues analysis of the state of Durkheimian thought on a wide range of topics.

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                          • Jones, Susan Stedman. 2001. Durkheim reconsidered. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

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                            An effort to connect Durkheim primarily to the now mostly forgotten neo-Kantian Charles Renouvier as well as to purge what the author sees as the illicit orthodox American sociological and British anthropological readings of Durkheim.

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                            • LaCapra, Dominick. 1972. Émile Durkheim: Sociologist and philosopher. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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                              An unfortunately largely forgotten early effort to interpret Durkheim’s overall project, by an intellectual historian of renown. Reads Durkheim as one of first thinkers to accurately understand crisis of meaning in modernity who endeavored to marry radicalism, liberalism, and conservatism, the three great and warring ideologies of modernity.

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                              • Meštrović, Stjepan. 1994. Émile Durkheim and the reformation of sociology. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

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                                First of several books in which Meštrović argues controversial claim that Durkheim was centrally influenced by Schopenhauer, taking up the latter’s antagonism to the will as a central platform in a social attack on anomie and social suffering. Fervently rejected by some Durkheim scholars, but definitely provocative. First published in 1988.

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                                • Tiryakian, Edward. 1962. Sociologism and existentialism: Two perspectives on the individual and society. Spectrum 33. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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                                  Finds significant common intellectual territory in Durkheimianism and existentialism, including a relativistic perspective on truth, an emphasis on transcendence, and a sense that modernity has brought with it a moral crisis.

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                                  • Tiryakian, Edward. 2009. For Durkheim: Essays in historical and cultural sociology. Rethinking Classical Sociology. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

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                                    A collection of the most important work on Durkheim over the past thirty-five years by one of the most knowledgeable living interpreters of Durkheim. The several essays that place Durkheimian thought in its intellectual historical context are insightful, but the real meat of this book is in the section on cultural sociology.

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                                    Collections of Writings

                                    In addition to the four book-length studies published in his lifetime and the numerous lecture courses and lengthy essays published as books posthumously (discussed in other sections below), Durkheim wrote a vast amount beyond that material, much of it for the Année Sociologique. Much of Durkheim’s writing for the Année is still unavailable in English translations (there was an effort in the late 1970s to publish some of this material, but the resulting volume is so marred by translation problems that we do not consider it a reliable source and therefore do not include it here). It is in any event always preferable to consult a writer in his native language if that is possible. Durkheim 1975 is an absolute requirement for specialists. Durkheim 1970 demonstrates how much Durkheim had to say on questions of politics. Though they are relatively early texts, Durkheim 1960 should be read by those who want a better understanding of how Durkheim situated his sociological project with respect to two of his main French predecessors in social philosophy. We include Gross and Jones 2004 mostly for its interest to intellectual historians who seek insights on the teaching of philosophy in French lycées in the late 1900s; although the editors endeavor to make a case for the importance of this text in understanding the development of Durkheim’s mature thought, that position is contested. In 2000, Quebec University at Chicoutimi began a very ambitious project to publish online versions of large amounts of classic sociological work in French (Collection: Les auteurs classiques: Émile Durkheim), and a decade later most of what Durkheim wrote in his lifetime can be found there.

                                    • Collection: Les auteurs classiques: Émile Durkheim.

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                                      Series: Les Classiques des Sciences Sociales; publisher: Université de Québec à Chicoutimi. Startlingly large collection of texts by Durkheim in French, including entire books and book-length collections of essays (nearly the entirety of the three volumes of Textes, and all four of the major books). Very reliable copies can be downloaded in pdf, rtf, or Word. Outstanding resource.

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                                      • Durkheim, Émile. 1960. Montesquieu and Rousseau, forerunners of sociology. Translated by Ralph Manheim. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press.

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                                        Two works, one (on Montesquieu) his Latin thesis from 1893, the other (on Rousseau) from Bordeaux lectures of the turn of the century, that situate both thinkers as founders of French social science.

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                                        • Durkheim, Émile. 1970. La science sociale et l’action. Edited by Jean-Claude Filloux. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

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                                          Collection of Durkheim’s writings on political questions, including two seminal pieces on the role of intellectuals in the political, “L’Individualisme et les intellectuels” and “L’élite intellectuelle et la démocratie,” and several interventions on nationalism, pacifism, and the class struggle.

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                                          • Durkheim, Émile. 1975. Textes. Edited by Victor Karady. Collection Le Sens Commun. Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit.

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                                            Karady assembled in these three volumes virtually the entirety of Durkheim’s writing outside of the major books published in his lifetime and posthumously and wrote a splendid introductory essay. In three volumes: vol. 1, Éléments d’une théorie sociale; vol. 2, Religion, morale, anomie; and vol. 3, Fonctions sociales et institutions.

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                                            • Gross, Neil, and Robert Alun Jones, eds. 2004. Durkheim’s philosophy lectures: Notes from the Lycée de Sens course, 1883–1884. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                              Not derived from a manuscript of Durkheim, but from the recovered notes of one of his sixteen-year-old students at Sens, André Lalande. Certainly of historical interest for what it tells us about the teaching of philosophy at the lycée level in Durkheim’s time, but its utility for a clear understanding of Durkheim’s mature work is arguably limited.

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                                              Undergraduate Summary Texts

                                              There exists a large number of textbook-style treatments of Durkheim’s work and its contribution to sociology, but many of these were written by insufficiently knowledgeable authors, whose grasp of the Durkheimian oeuvre was very partial if not poor. Too many of these books by American sociologists still rely on simplifications and falsehoods regarding Durkheim’s intellectual perspective that derive from the Parsonian functionalist reading of it that was dominant for many decades in the United States. That said, however, some problematic readings of Durkheim are more worthy than others. Nisbet 1974 misconstrues Durkheim’s fundamental political and moral perspective, but is still able to reflect usefully on some aspects of his work, so we include him here. The other sources listed are reliable introductions for undergraduates and others without extensive knowledge of Durkheim’s work. The two in English (Giddens 1978 and Jones 1986) stick rather more rigorously to the four major published books of Durkheim’s lifetime (The Division of Labor in Society, The Rules of Sociological Method, Suicide, and The Elementary Forms of Religious Life) than do the two in French (Steiner 1994 and Prades 1997). Emirbayer 2003 would be a particularly appropriate text for a student of contemporary sociological theory looking to understand the relevance of Durkheim’s thought to contemporary theoretical debates.

                                              • Emirbayer, Mustafa, ed. 2003. Émile Durkheim: Sociologist of modernity. Modernity and Society 2. Oxford: Blackwell.

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                                                Endeavors to show the contemporary relevance of Durkheim’s thought by connecting selections from Durkheim’s writing to central ideas in current sociology found in work ranging from Bourdieu’s analysis of distinction to Amitai Etzioni’s communitarian economic sociology.

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                                                • Giddens, Anthony. 1978. Émile Durkheim. Modern Masters. New York: Viking.

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                                                  Concise (125 pages) summary of major topics in Durkheim’s work with a critical commentary on the four published book-length works. Some consideration of an important topic too often omitted in such texts: the ways in which Durkheim’s political worldview affected his vision of sociology.

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                                                  • Jones, Robert Alun. 1986. Émile Durkheim: An introduction to four major works. Masters of Social Theory 2. London: Sage.

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                                                    A basic introduction to the four books published in Durkheim’s lifetime. Jones is a determined historicist, which means one finds little comparison of Durkheim’s thought to contemporary theoretical developments here. Some of this book can be found at Jones’s webpage on Durkheim.

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                                                    • Nisbet, Robert. 1974. The sociology of Émile Durkheim. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                      Reads Durkheim’s theoretical vision as a profound attack on classical liberal ideas. Though he is a clever writer and a knowledgeable historian of the discipline, Nisbet ultimately has to ignore significant data in painting Durkheim as a conservative thinker.

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                                                      • Prades, José. 1997. Durkheim. 3d ed. Que Sais-Je? 2533. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

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                                                        Prades has written a great deal about Durkheim’s theory of religion (his work can be seen in the 1990 special issue of Archives de Sciences Sociales des Religions on Durkheim), and this book is a solid introduction to Durkheim in the Que Sais-Je? collection at PUF.

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                                                        • Steiner, Philippe. 1994. La sociologie de Durkheim. Collection Repères 154. Paris: Éditions La Découverte.

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                                                          Another solid, reliable introductory source in French, written by one of the foremost French economic sociologists.

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                                                          Journals and Special Issues

                                                          In Durkheim’s lifetime, the journal he established served as the central publication site for most of the work he completed. L’Année Sociologique continues to be published and remains a central intellectual source in the French world, though its structure has changed significantly since Durkheim’s day. In the wake of the late 1970s movement in France and elsewhere to return to Durkheim and his school, a number of journals have been the sites of special issues or more concentrated and long-term attention to the work of Durkheim. Durkheimian Studies/Études Durkheimiennes was created by Philippe Besnard and published in Paris from 1977 until 1987. Robert Alun Jones in the United States took up the project in the late 1980s and then passed the torch to the British Centre for Durkheimian Studies in the mid-1990s; it is an appropriate trajectory that indicates the tremendous influence of Durkheimian thought in all three of these national intellectual cultures. Besnard was also a central player in the emergence of the Besnard 1976 special issue in the Revue Française de Sociologie on Durkheim. The Hervieu-Lèger 1990 special issue of Archives de Sciences Sociales des Religions and the Ramp 2008 issue of Journal of Classical Sociology provide more recent perspectives on the state of Durkheim research; the former is especially appropriate for readers with specific interest in religion, whereas the latter looks at a wider range of work on Durkheim.

                                                          • Besnard Philippe, ed. 1976. Special Issue: À propos de Durkheim. Revue française de sociologie 17.2.

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                                                            Much but not all of this material appeared later (and in English translation) in Besnard 1983 (see Historical and Social Context of the Durkheimian/Année Sociologique School). The fruit of the pioneering work of Besnard, Karady, and a few others in France to recover and reexamine the Durkheimian tradition.

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                                                            • Durkheimian Studies/Études Durkheimiennes.

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                                                              The single most important journal on Durkheim today presents research in both English and French, including book reviews and original articles. Produced by the British Centre for Durkheimian Studies, published by Berghahn Books.

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                                                              • Hervieu-Lèger Danièle, ed. 1990. Special Issue: Relire Durkheim. Archives de Sciences Sociales des Religions 69.1.

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                                                                This is a superb collection of articles from top-ranked Durkheimian scholars, including Robert Bellah, W. S. F. Pickering, Jeffrey Alexander, Bernard Lacroix, and François Isambert.

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                                                                • L’Année Sociologique.

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                                                                  This journal, established by Durkheim in 1898, is still alive, now edited by Annie Devinant and published by the Presses Universitaires de France. No longer largely dedicated to literature reviews with one or two lengthy original essay contributions per issue, as was the case under Durkheim; it now looks a lot like other social science journals, with each issue carrying a number of original articles of approximately ten thousand words each.

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                                                                  • Ramp, William, ed. 2008. Special Issue: Durkheim. Journal of Classical Sociology 8.2.

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                                                                    Ably introduced by William Ramp, this collection provides insight into the state of Durkheimian scholarship today. Contributions span the gap between properly sociological and broader social theory.

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                                                                    Education and Pedagogy

                                                                    Durkheim’s first university position at Bordeaux was a lectureship in social science and pedagogy and, though some suggest that Durkheim at least initially saw his required courses in education as a distraction from his more fundamental interest in the establishment of sociology as a new scholarly discipline, he produced a great amount of reflection on pedagogy from a sociological perspective over the course of his life. Much of this lecture material was published relatively soon after his death, though translated into English only in the second half of the 20th century, and it becomes clear in studying it how much one can glean from Durkheim’s understanding of the purview of sociology from these materials. All three of the English-language volumes (Durkheim 1956, Durkheim 1961, and Durkheim 1977) should be read more frequently by sociologists. Jones 1990 and several selections in Cardi and Plantier 1993 and Walford and Pickering 1998 are centrally interested in what Durkheim’s approach to education reveals about his sociological theory more generally. Other sources attempt to summarize the large body of work Durkheim produced here for specialist (Cherkaoui 1976) and nonspecialist (Filloux 1994) audiences.

                                                                    • Cardi, François, and Joëlle Plantier, eds. 1993. Durkheim, sociologue de l’éducation: Journées d’études, 15–16 octobre 1992. Paris: L’Harmattan.

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                                                                      Enlightening collection of essays that look hard at Durkheim’s educational writings to find evidence of his political perspective, his theory of pedagogy, and his thoughts on religion and morality. Several pieces examine Durkheim’s thoughts on the teaching of sociology at the lycée and university levels.

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                                                                      • Cherkaoui, Mohamed. 1976. Socialisation et conflit: Les systems éducatifs et leur histoire selon Durkheim. Revue Française de Sociologie 17.2:197–212.

                                                                        DOI: 10.2307/3321245E-mail Citation »

                                                                        An excellent brief summary of the upshot of Durkheim’s lecture courses that became Education and Sociology (Durkheim 1956) and The Evolution of Educational Thought (Durkheim 1977).

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                                                                        • Durkheim, Émile. 1956. Education and sociology. Translated by Sherwood Fox. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.

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                                                                          Translation of first volume of Durkheim’s work on education published after his death by Année collaborator Paul Fauconnet in 1922. Includes “Pedagogy and Sociology,” Durkheim’s inaugural lecture at the Sorbonne from 1902.

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                                                                          • Durkheim, Émile. 1961. Moral education: A study in the theory and application of the sociology of education. Translated by Everett Wilson and Herman Schnurer. New York: Free Press.

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                                                                            Contains the bulk of the course on the education of secular morality that Durkheim taught both at Bordeaux and Paris. Durkheim argues that such morality would consist of three elements: the spirit of discipline, attachment to the social group, and the autonomous will of the subject.

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                                                                            • Durkheim, Émile. 1977. The evolution of educational thought: Lectures on the formation and development of secondary education in France. Translated by Peter Collins. London: Routledge.

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                                                                              Course given at the Sorbonne beginning in 1904–1905, introduced by Maurice Halbwachs. Detailed historical sociological account of the rise of the French university and its transformations. An underappreciated gem in the Durkheimian corpus.

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                                                                              • Filloux, Jean-Claude. 1994. Durkheim et l’éducation. Pédagogues et Pedagogies. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

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                                                                                An excellent little book for the nonspecialist that summarizes what is useful for the contemporary pedagogue in Durkheim’s thought on the subject. Second half of book consists of excerpts from Durkheim on a wide range of themes (e.g., “The Teaching of History,” “The Authority of the Teacher”).

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                                                                                • Jones, Robert Alun. 1990. Realism and religion: Some reflections on Durkheim’s L’Évolution pédagogique en France. Archives de Sciences Sociales des Religions 69:69–89.

                                                                                  DOI: 10.3406/assr.1990.1315E-mail Citation »

                                                                                  Discerns a tight relationship between Durkheim’s pedagogical realism and his doctrine, enunciated most clearly in The Rules of Sociological Method (Durkheim 1982; see Sociology as Science and Method), of the social fact as a thing.

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                                                                                  • Walford, Geoffrey, and W. S. F. Pickering, eds. 1998. Durkheim and modern education. Routledge International Studies in the Philosophy of Education 6. London: Routledge.

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                                                                                    Collection that puts Durkheim into conversation with other central thinkers on education (e.g., Dewey, Kohlberg) and evaluates his educational theory by looking to schooling systems in a number of differing national contexts (e.g., the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan). Revised papers from conference sponsored by the British Economic and Social Research Council and the British Centre for Durkheimian Studies, University of Oxford, Oxford July 1996.

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                                                                                    Social Solidarity, Law, and the Division of Labor

                                                                                    In 1893, Durkheim’s primary thesis “De la division de travail social: Étude sur l’organisation des societies supérieures” (first translated into English in 1933 as “The Division of Labor in Society”) was published by Alcan. In the preface to the first edition, Durkheim 1984 clearly marked out the central question at the core of this work: the relationship of the individual personality and social solidarity. As the individual has become more autonomous and free of social control of the most primitive kinds, s/he has nonetheless become more dependent on society and the moral bonds uniting its members. This seeming paradox was seen by Durkheim as at the root of the revolution of modernity. He argued that different forms of social solidarity corresponded to different forms of law and sanctions; primitive social groups were characterized by mechanical solidarity and repressive/penal law, while modern societies tended toward organic solidarity and restitutive/civil law. In 1901, he published the essay “Two Laws of Penal Evolution” in the Année (which can be found in translation in Lukes and Scull 1983). Here, he slightly modified the thesis regarding the relationship of law to social organization by recognizing that concentration of governmental power could act independently of social solidarity. Much of the reception of Durkheim’s work on these themes has been critical of the neatness of his two types of social organization and the data on which he drew to formulate his image of primitive society (Hebrew, Roman, and early Christian legal texts rather than ethnographic data). Lukes and Scull 1983 is particularly trenchant in its criticisms of Durkheim’s approach to law. Merton 1934, Grusky 2005, and Tiryakian 1994 note problems but are more convinced of the long-term successes of Division (Durkheim 1984). Prendergrast 1983–1984 is one of several who explored the possible influence of Durkheim’s teacher, Fustel de Coulanges, on his thinking at this early stage in his career. Steiner 1992 attempts to read Division and other pieces of Durkheim’s investigation of economic facts as an early contribution to economic sociology proper. Besnard, et al. 1993 is the single most complete volume on the state of scholarship on Division.

                                                                                    • Durkheim, Émile. 1984. The division of labor in society. Translated by W. D. Halls. New York: Free Press.

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                                                                                      A considerable improvement over the poor original English translation by George Simpson. Introduced by Lewis Coser and contains Durkheim’s prefaces to the first and second French editions. First published in 1933, based on 1893 doctoral thesis.

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                                                                                      • Besnard, Philippe, Massimo Borlandi, and Paul Vogt, eds. 1993. Division de travail et lien social: La thèse de Durkheim un siècle après. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

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                                                                                        Collection offers interpretive efforts to explore the major themes of Durkheim’s classic (e.g., law, the individual, social pathology), investigations of the influences on Durkheim’s argument in Division of Labor (e.g., Comte, Spencer), and explorations of the reception of the text in various national contexts.

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                                                                                        • Grusky, David, and Gabriela Galescu. 2005. Is Durkheim a class analyst? In The Cambridge companion to Durkheim. Edited by Jeffrey Alexander and Philip Smith, 322–359. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                          Makes a powerful case for the superiority of Durkheim’s position on class to that of Marx, given the fact that contemporary class identities seem more based on the occupational categories Durkheim described than on the macroclasses privileged in Marx’s analysis.

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                                                                                          • Lukes, Steven, and Andrew Scull, eds. 1983. Durkheim and the law. Law in Society. New York: St. Martin’s.

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                                                                                            Most of this volume consists of excerpts from major texts (Division of Labor, Professional Ethics), but it also contains a translation of Durkheim’s important essay “Two Laws of Penal Evolution,” with an articulate introduction that powerfully criticizes the Durkheimian sociology of law.

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                                                                                            • Merton, Robert. 1934. Durkheim’s division of labor in society. American Journal of Sociology 40.3: 319–328.

                                                                                              DOI: 10.1086/216745E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              Published just a year after Division was first translated into English. Of obvious historical interest, but still to be read for its insights into the variety of positivism that undergirds Division. Reprinted in Sociological Forum 9.1 (1994): 17–25.

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                                                                                              • Prendergast, Christopher. 1983–1984. The impact of Fustel de Coulanges’ La Cité antique on Durkheim’s theories of social morphology and social solidarity. Humboldt Journal of Social Relations 11.1: 53.

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                                                                                                Fustel was Durkheim’s teacher at the École Normale, and Durkheim dedicated his Latin thesis to the great historian. Prendergast argues that the master’s greatest work evidently left its imprint on the student as well.

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                                                                                                • Steiner, Philippe. 1992. Le fait social économique chez Durkheim. Revue Française de Sociologie 33.4: 641–661.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.2307/3322230E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  Discerns in Durkheim’s study of labor and the economy an economic sociology that takes economic facts as social facts. A strong effort to place Durkheim in the lineage of a subfield in sociology that has largely misrecognized his position.

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                                                                                                  • Tiryakian, Edward. 1994. Revisiting sociology’s first classic: The division of labor in society and its actuality. In Special Issue: Durkheim Lives! Edited by Edward Tiryakian. Sociological Forum 9.1: 3–16.

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1007/BF01507701E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    Reading of Division of Labor as a still vibrant and insightful work, reflecting with acuity on problems of political division at the turn of the 20th century. Presents an outline of the case for a “return of mechanical solidarity” in the renewed vigor of ethnic and national identity movements.

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                                                                                                    Sociology as Science and Method

                                                                                                    Durkheim understood the perilous position of the emerging discipline very clearly. Philosophy, the queen of the disciplines, sat on a throne from which critical attacks were frequently directed. The emerging human sciences had great difficulty separating themselves from philosophy, and unsurprisingly the most successful of those new disciplines, psychology, was the one that took on the conceptual language of philosophy in the least adulterated form. Sociology needed to present a new explanatory apparatus, new conceptual tools, an entirely new perspective on the human condition with unique capacities for discovery. The study on suicide would constitute the most sustained Durkheimian offensive on this front, but even before its publication Durkheim had produced a treatise on sociological method that was intended also as a rallying point and recruiting tool for the Durkheimian school. This text was The Rules of Sociological Method (Durkheim 1982). The bulk of what made up Rules was first published as four articles in Revue philosophique in 1894. The widely accepted consensus position is that Rules is a clearly flawed effort, though some would suggest it is wholly unsalvageable and others (e.g., Gane 1988, Jones 1999) offer a limited and contextualized defense. Much of the contemporary work on this book is involved in reconstructing the details of the intellectual, polemical world in which Durkheim wrote it; the volume by Borlandi and Mucchielli 1995 is representative of this approach. Schmaus 1994 is a rarity in its vision of Durkheim’s entire intellectual output as a coherent body defined and directed by the methodological principles of Rules.

                                                                                                    • Borlandi, Massimo, and Laurent Mucchielli, eds. 1995. La sociologie et sa méthode: Les Règles de Durkheim, un siècle après. Histoire des Sciences Humaines. Paris: Harmattan.

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                                                                                                      Places Rules in its historical and social context, emphasizing the intellectual strategy of Durkheim in positioning himself and the new discipline of sociology vis-à-vis more established academic adversaries. Other chapters examine the reception of the book in a number of countries.

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                                                                                                      • Durkheim, Émile. 1982. The rules of sociological method, and selected texts on sociology and its method. Translated by W. D. Halls; edited by Steven Lukes. New York: Free Press.

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                                                                                                        Steven Lukes writes a well-informed introduction, acknowledging the limits of this book while carefully explaining what Durkheim intended it to do. Earlier English translation very problematic. This volume also contains some interesting short texts, including transcript of a discussion between Durkheim and Charles Seignobos on explanation in sociology and history.

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                                                                                                        • Gane, Mike. 1988. On Durkheim’s Rules of sociological method. London: Routledge.

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                                                                                                          Able defense of Durkheim’s most criticized work. Gane shows how the various criticisms of Rules fail to accurately understand the argument and indeed often even contradict one another.

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                                                                                                          • Jones, Robert Alun. 1999. The development of Durkheim’s social realism. Ideas in Context 55. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511488818E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            Argues that the position articulated in Rules was an evolutionary product of Durkheim’s intellectual development, and his student experience in Germany was one of the central sites of the origin of his later theoretical position.

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                                                                                                            • Schmaus, Warren. 1994. Durkheim’s Philosophy of Science and the Sociology of Knowledge: Creating an intellectual niche. Science and Its Conceptual Foundations. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                                                                                                              An attempt at a reading of the entirety of Durkheim’s intellectual work through the lens of Rules. Schmaus is a philosopher and his attempts to root his work as a philosopher of science in a sociology of knowledge fall short, but this is one of the few recent works to argue strongly for Rules without qualifying the argument by reference to Durkheim’s strategic goals in writing it.

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                                                                                                              Social Integration, Moral Regulation, and Suicide

                                                                                                              Durkheim’s interest in suicide as a phenomenon that pointed to possible weaknesses in society’s ability to successfully win the allegiance of its members dates at least to the late 1880s. In 1887, a close friend of his from the École Normale, Victor Hommay, died in circumstances that may have been suicidal, and Durkheim wrote a lengthy obituary in which he invoked a sketch of the theoretical position he would fill in with his book-length study of suicide. In 1888–1889, he gave a lecture course on the topic. Suicide, he recognized, was an excellent candidate for a study designed to prove the unique explanatory ability of sociology to speak to social problems that traditionally had been relegated to purely individualist arguments. Statistics were readily available and Durkheim, with the help of his nephew Mauss, eagerly mobilized them in the book On Suicide (Durkheim 2006), which is, to this day, probably the single work with which Durkheim is most clearly identified. It is also probably the single work that has been addressed most frequently in subsequent research, whether in the effort to support or attack his argument and conceptual language. A wide range of opinions has emerged, though all are in agreement that there are significant difficulties with Durkheim’s argument. Borlandi and Cherkaoui 2000, Lester 1994, and Pickering and Walford 2000 include a wide range of the opinion and present a great deal of contextualizing historical investigation as well. The author of Besnard 1982 and Besnard 1987, one of the most knowledgeable interpreters of Durkheim, wrote a good deal on the elements of the argument of Suicide; we include two of those sources that carefully explore the place of the concept of anomie in this work and in Durkheim’s work more broadly. Pope 1976 presents a set of provocative claims about the book that have been criticized by others (notably Besnard). Baudelot and Establet 1984 is an excellent undergraduate introduction.

                                                                                                              • Baudelot, Christian, and Roger Establet. 1984. Durkheim et le suicide. Philosophies 3. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

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                                                                                                                Perhaps the best short introduction to Durkheim’s text and treatment of the topic for a non-specialist audience in any language. Notes problems in Durkheim’s text, but shows that some of the core arguments still hold today, especially regarding the significance of familial integration.

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                                                                                                                • Besnard, Philippe. 1982. L’anomie dans la biographie intellectuelle de Durkheim. Sociologie et sociétés 14.2: 45–53.

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                                                                                                                  Besnard looks to biographical details of Durkheim’s life to conclude that anomie was only a fleeting intellectual concern for Durkheim, and thus moral regulation is a less central conceptual element of Durkheim’s work than social integration.

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                                                                                                                  • Besnard, Philippe. 1987. L’anomie, ses usages et ses fonctions dans la discipline sociologique depuis Durkheim. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

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                                                                                                                    Systematic examination of the concept frequently understood (in Besnard’s argument, incorrectly) as the central concept in Durkheim’s sociology. Expertly traces the concept in both American and French sociological domains, demonstrating the fragility and instability of its definition and its ultimately very limited utility.

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                                                                                                                    • Borlandi, Massimo, and Mohammed Cherkaoui, eds. 2000. Le suicide: Un siècle après Durkheim. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

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                                                                                                                      Consists of four groups of essays: (1) on the sources on which Durkheim drew; (2) on the reception of Suicide; (3) studies that build on the results of Durkheim’s work; and (4) a previously unpublished text by Gabriel Tarde, one of the main targets of the theoretical attack in Suicide, in which Tarde defends his view of sociology.

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                                                                                                                      • Durkheim, Émile. 2006. On suicide. Translated by Robin Buss. London: Penguin.

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                                                                                                                        Introduction by Richard Sennett, eminently readable translation of what is probably Durkheim’s best-known book. Textual notes by Alexander Riley help non-specialist readers with some of Durkheim’s historical and literary allusions and references.

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                                                                                                                        • Lester, David, ed. 1994. Émile Durkheim: Le suicide one hundred years later. Philadelphia: Charles.

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                                                                                                                          Edited collection by a psychologist who has closely studied suicide. Topically ranges so widely that the volume is not wholly coherent; some of the entries suggest at bottom that a sociological approach to suicide is misplaced. Contains a translation of Durkheim’s essay “Suicide et natalité,” which was written almost a decade before the book on suicide.

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                                                                                                                          • Pickering, W. S. F., and Geoffrey Walford, eds. 2000. Durkheim’s Suicide: A century of research and debate. Routledge Studies in Social and Political Thought 28. London: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                            Papers originally presented at a conference at the British Centre for Durkheimian Studies. Contains both efforts to extend and apply Durkheim’s analysis and sketches of the reception of the book.

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                                                                                                                            • Pope, Whitney. 1976. Durkheim’s Suicide: A classic analyzed. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                                                                                                                              Controversially argues that anomic and egotistical suicide are not substantively distinct from one another, and therefore that regulation and integration (the two major independent variables in Durkheim’s study) are actually one variable.

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                                                                                                                              Politics, Socialism, and the State

                                                                                                                              It is fairly clear that concerns of an ultimately political nature were of profound importance in Durkheim’s sociological project. Philosophy, the dominant intellectual discipline in the France of Durkheim’s day, was combined with the critique of political economy to create sociology. Though he was always careful about making explicit political allegiances and articulated an intellectual position of abstention from overt political activity, his concern that a caustic variety of egoistic individualism would undercut social solidarity and the sense of mutual responsibility for the collective pushed him inevitably toward essentially socialist politics. In 1895–1896, he presented a lecture course on the history of socialism in France (Durkheim 1962), which endeavored to strip away the Marxist socialist pretentions to science while at the same time underlining socialism’s emotional moral claims and even arguing for Saint-Simon as the father of both socialism and social science in France. Later, during the political heat of the Dreyfus Affair, he produced several important interventions into the debate among intellectuals as to where their allegiances should lie. Though it was for a long time not well known in the English-speaking world, he also lectured on the state as the chief political entity in modernity and produced at least the foundation of a theory of the state (Durkheim 1992). Filloux 1977, Lacroix 1981, Gane 1992, and Pearce 1989 read Durkheim’s efforts here as central to the meaning of his intellectual project; socialist politics was in this view an integral element of sociological inquiry. Llobera 1994 sketches a Durkheimian perspective on national identity and Prochasson and Rasmussen 1996 present the historical context within which Durkheim’s efforts to think through the intellectual’s role in politics took place.

                                                                                                                              • Durkheim, Émile. 1962. Socialism. Translated by Charlotte Sattler. New York: Collier.

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                                                                                                                                Substantial introduction by Alvin Gouldner, who argues that the lectures establish Saint-Simon as the father of sociology and that sociology and socialism should therefore be understood as members of the same intellectual family, a point Durkheim in fact explicitly rejects in the text.

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                                                                                                                                • Durkheim, Émile. 1992. Professional ethics and civic morals. Translated by Cornelia Brookfield. London: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                  One of the most important of Durkheim’s lesser-known works, consisting of lectures he gave first at Bordeaux in the 1890s and then later at the Sorbonne. Contains both Georges Davy’s original introduction and Bryan Turner’s preface, which frames the lectures as a left progressive vision of the state’s role in social justice and economic regulation.

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                                                                                                                                  • Filloux, Jean-Claude. 1977. Durkheim et le socialisme. Travaux de Droit, D’économie, de Sociologie et de Sciences Politiques 111. Geneva, Switzerland: Droz.

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                                                                                                                                    Sees Durkheim’s “original project” as political and socialist, if in terms that require some decoding. This book is something of a companion to the collection of Durkheim’s writing on politics edited by Filloux, La Science sociale et l’action (Paris: Presses Universitaires, 1970).

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                                                                                                                                    • Gane, Mike, ed. 1992. The radical sociology of Durkheim and Mauss. London: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                      Contains a number of translations of writings available elsewhere, but Gane’s commentary on the connections and divergences of Durkheimian sociology and socialist politics makes this volume indispensable. Also contains little-known appraisal by Mauss of early Soviet communism.

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                                                                                                                                      • Lacroix, Bernard. 1981. Durkheim et le politique. Paris: Presses de la Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques.

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                                                                                                                                        Like Filloux’s book, attempts a holistic reading of the meaning of Durkheim’s œuvre, arguing that the entirety of the work is an interrogation of the political spurred by psychoanalytic complications involving his relationship to his father.

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                                                                                                                                        • Llobera, Joseph. 1994. Durkheim and the national question. In Debating Durkheim. Edited by W. S. F. Pickering and H. Martins, 134–158. London: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                          A measured analysis of some of Durkheim’s lesser-known writings (including the wartime propaganda for the Allies he wrote during World War I) that reveals elements of a theory of national identity and some limited support for national politics in Durkheim’s thought.

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                                                                                                                                          • Pearce, Frank. 1989. The radical Durkheim. London: Unwin Hyman.

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                                                                                                                                            Puts Durkheim into fruitful conversation with Marx and, although Marx remains the theorist of socialism for Pearce, Durkheim emerges as a worthy figure in the same endeavor. One of the best sources for criticism of the once-widespread view of Durkheim as a political conservative.

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                                                                                                                                            • Prochasson, Christophe, and Anne Rasmussen. 1996. Au nom de la patrie. Les intellectuels et la Première Guerre Mondiale, 1910–1919. Textes à L’appui. Paris: La Découverte.

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                                                                                                                                              Penetrating look at the overall context of patriotic engagement in the war effort by intellectuals. Effectively situates the frenzied work Durkheim contributed to the effort to get the French public behind the war.

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                                                                                                                                              The Family, Women, and Gender

                                                                                                                                              Durkheim wrote a great deal on these topics, though most of it was in the form of book reviews in the Année and course lecture materials and therefore is not nearly as well known as some of his work on other topics. Marcel Mauss, however, noted on his death that the study of the family was, along with the study of morality, among the topics Durkheim most cherished. He considered the study of the family a logical requirement of the interest in social solidarity and collective human nature, as the family is the human social group with the longest history. Durkheim’s thought here has been more widely misunderstood and misrepresented than his work in any other area, perhaps at least in part because of the pronounced rise in the past several decades of critical and radical intellectual perspectives on gender and the family with a pronounced impatience for contextualized historical understanding of earlier intellectual perspectives on these matters. Lamanna 2002 is to date the most complete summary of Durkheim’s work and it is rigorously fair in its treatment. Pedersen 1998 takes an equally objective look at Durkheim’s intervention into French discussions of sex education. Besnard 1973 offers a careful textual analysis of Durkheim’s argument concerning the effects of marriage on women in Suicide. Lehmann 1994 is included as an example of the magnitude of some misunderstandings of Durkheim’s positions in this field; the limits of her approach only begin with the fact that she did not consult the huge pile of Durkheim’s writing on this topic that has not been translated. Besnard’s review of her book was devastating, and ultimately one learns much less about Durkheim in reading her book than about a certain kind of highly ideological contemporary intellectual perspective. Charle 1984 examines the ways in which Durkheim’s own family situation modeled the familial ideal his sociology suggested. Gane 1993 reads Durkheim’s understanding of marriage as basically retrograde when compared to that of his contemporary Max Weber.

                                                                                                                                              • Besnard, Philippe. 1973. Durkheim et les femmes ou le Suicide inachevé. Revue Française de Sociologie 14.1: 27–61.

                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.2307/3320322E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                In exceptionally close reading of Suicide, Besnard argues that most of the ambiguities and problem areas in Durkheim’s study occur due to his incomplete and sometimes contradictory consideration of the effects of the marital institution on women.

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                                                                                                                                                • Charle, Christophe, 1984. Le Beau marriage d’Émile Durkheim. Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales 55:45–49.

                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.3406/arss.1984.2238E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                  Durkheim was deeply interested in the family as an object of sociological inquiry, and Charle shows how the sociology of Durkheim’s own family constitutes a chief element in the production of his own work.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Durkheim, Émile. 1963. Incest: The nature and origin of the taboo. Translated by Edward Sagarin. New York: Lyle Stuart.

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                                                                                                                                                    Also contains a lengthy essay by Albert Ellis assessing Durkheim’s reading of incest (which originally appeared in the Année sociologique in 1898) in the context of later work on the topic. One of the first works by Durkheim that systematically examines ethnographic data.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Gane, Mike. 1993. Harmless Lovers?: Gender, theory, and personal relationships. London: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                      Looks at the place of women in the lives of a number of important social theorists, including Max Weber, Marx, Nietzsche, and Durkheim.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Lamanna, Mary Ann. 2002. Émile Durkheim on the family. Understanding Families 20. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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                                                                                                                                                        Solid effort to explore Durkheim’s writing on sex, gender, and the family by feminist scholar. Contextualizes his work historically, examines reasons for the frequent (seemingly willful) misunderstandings of this aspect of Durkheim’s thought, and makes a strong case for the importance of his work here.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Lehmann, Jennifer. 1994. Durkheim and women. Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press.

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                                                                                                                                                          Controversial feminist attack on Durkheim as a fundamentally misogynist thinker. In a review of the book, one of the world’s foremost Durkheim scholars, Philippe Besnard, pointed out that the vast bulk of Durkheim’s writing on the family and women was not examined at all by Lehmann.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Pedersen, Jean Elisabeth. 1998. Something mysterious: Sex education, Victorian morality, and Durkheim’s comparative sociology. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 34.2: 135–151.

                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1520-6696(199821)34:2<135::AID-JHBS2>3.0.CO;2-RE-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                            Nuanced examination of Durkheim’s position in debates concerning sexual education of the time. Shallow readings of Durkheim here see him as a conservative, but Pedersen aptly demonstrates that his insistence on seeing the case for or against sex education as a question of cultural politics and not biology makes him something quite more complex.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Traugott, Mark, ed. 1978. Émile Durkheim on institutional analysis. Heritage of Sociology. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                                                                                                                                                              Traugott translates and introduces a number of Durkheim’s writings, including three key texts on the family (lectures on “Introduction to the Sociology of the Family” and “The Conjugal Family” and the transcript of a debate on “Divorce by Mutual Consent”).

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                                                                                                                                                              Religion and Culture

                                                                                                                                                              In 1894–1895, Durkheim gave his first course on religion at Bordeaux. It was at this point, he later claimed, that he “had the clear feeling of the essential role played by religion in social life” and “for the first time . . . found the means to sociologically approach the study of religion.” It was a period of immense creative energy for Durkheim; just a year previously, he had published Rules, and a year later, in 1896, he would launch the effort to create the first sociological journal, l’Année sociologique. Durkheim cultivated his nephew Marcel Mauss as the central religion scholar on the Année team, and Mauss (in tandem with Henri Hubert, another key member of the team) began during this period to produce a large body of work on the topic, including long essays on sacrifice (in 1899) and magic (in 1904) that appeared in the Année. Durkheim himself also began the slow move toward the study of religion around this same time. In 1912, he produced what most would agree was his magnum opus, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, where he argued that the sacred is the core of religious life and the object of specific beliefs and rites, both positive and negative. Though the last book he wrote, this was the first of his books to be translated into English (although the first translation was problematic and English readers had to wait many more decades for better efforts; Durkheim 1995 is the best unabridged translation). Tiryakian 1981 notes how much the book’s style imitates a famous religious model, the Book of Revelation in the New Testament. Watts Miller 2002 speculates about how the sacred might transform itself as secularization spreads (a theme Durkheim explored in the conclusion of his book). Mellor 1998 contains a particularly penetrating investigation of collective effervescence, one of the central theoretical innovations in the book. Riley 2010 sees Durkheim not only as a student of the sacred but also as someone pursuing it himself through his conception of the meaning of intellectual labor. In the last several decades, the interpretive momentum has seemingly been on the side of those who read Durkheim’s work fundamentally through the lens of Elementary Forms and from a perspective situated in the cultural turn in the social sciences. Alexander 1988 (along with Alexander and Smith 2005; see Major Book-Length Studies/Collections) stands as one of the chief statements to date of this interpretive movement. Rawls 2004 is an opponent of the culturalist reading of Durkheim’s work on religion.

                                                                                                                                                              • Alexander, Jeffrey, ed. 1988. Durkheimian sociology: Cultural studies. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                Wide-ranging collection, with a vigorous introduction by Alexander, that was one of the earliest efforts to resituate Durkheim with respect to the cultural turn in the human sciences. Contributions range from reading Durkheim as a theorist of cultural revolution to applying some of his insights to media phenomena that did not exist in his day.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Durkheim, Émile. 1995. The elementary forms of religious life. Translated by Karen Fields. New York: Free Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Fields is a social scientist who is fluent in both English and French, so this is the first translation of Durkheim’s greatest work by a scholar with requisite expertise in social theory and questions of translation. Best source for anyone who wants the entirety of Durkheim’s text.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Mellor, Philip. 1998. Sacred contagion and social vitality: Collective effervescence in Les formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse. Durkheimian Studies 4:87–114.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Penetrating examination of one of the core conceptual innovations in Elementary Forms, collective effervescence. Suggests ways in which the concept may be useful beyond the realm of religion.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Rawls, Anne Warfield. 2004. Epistemology and practice: Durkheim’s The elementary forms of religious life. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Argues that Durkheim’s argument is not a sociology of knowledge, but an effort in epistemology. She argues that he presents a case for the primacy of practices over beliefs and that his vision in Elementary Forms is consistent with that present in his earlier work. A staunch opponent of the move to see Durkheim through the lens of the cultural turn. E-book.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Riley, Alexander. 2010. Godless intellectuals?: The intellectual pursuit of the sacred reinvented. New York: Berghahn.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Investigates the Durkheimian interest in religion as an element in the existential meaning-making project for Durkheim himself. Complicates the traditional perspective of “Durkheim the secular intellectual” by arguing that intellectual life and collective intellectual labor itself became a sacred object for Durkheim (and some of the others working with him on the Année).

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Strenski, Ivan. 2006. The new Durkheim. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Collection of pieces from the author of Durkheim and the Jews of France (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1997). Attempts to connect Durkheim’s thinking on religion to liberal Protestant scholarly circles in the France of his day. Vigorously argued if not always convincing.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Tiryakian, Edward. 1981. Durkheim’s Elementary Forms as “Revelation.” In The future of the sociological classics. Edited by Buford Rhea, 114–135. Boston: Allen and Unwin.

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                                                                                                                                                                            Stylistically compares Durkheim’s last book to the last book of the New Testament, showing that Elementary Forms constitutes an effort to “open up the seals of the fundamental factors of social existence,” namely, those of social change, knowledge, power, and the ludic.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Watts Miller, Willie. 2002. Secularism and the sacred: Is there really something called “Secular Religion”? In Reappraising Durkheim for the study and teaching of religion today. Edited by Thomas Idinopulos and Brian Wilson, 27–44. Studies in the History of Religion 92. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Argues that we should class the remnants of the sacred in the secular world as merely “semi-sacred,” insofar as much of the sacred’s power disappears when its religious foundation is removed. Criticizes Michel Maffesoli’s view of “re-enchantment” of the world in postmodernity.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Sociology of Knowledge

                                                                                                                                                                              In The Elementary Forms, Durkheim intervened at length into the sociology of knowledge, proposing a kind of sociological middle way between Kantian a priorism and Humean radical empiricism, wherein knowledge is a product of collective representations shared by the members of a social collective. This view had already been proposed in an essay, Durkheim and Mauss 1963, on collective representation that was published in the Année in 1903. There, an argument was presented that basic categories of human thought arise from the structural facts concerning the organization of the tribal societies in which they first appeared. In a lecture course on pragmatism late in his life, Durkheim 1983 took up the philosophical field of epistemology from a sociological standpoint once again. These efforts have been subjected to rigorous criticism, as evidenced in Needham’s preface to Durkheim and Mauss 1963 and Joas 1984. They nonetheless have served as the groundwork for later efforts in the sociology of knowledge that have had much better reception, including David Bloor’s intriguing marriage of Durkheim and Wittgenstein in Pickering 2000. Namer 1977 is a good introduction to Durkheim’s work on this topic. Nielsen 1999 is a major effort to recast our understanding of the meaning of Durkheim’s work through a close focus on the philosophical category of totality.

                                                                                                                                                                              • Durkheim, Émile, and Marcel Mauss. 1963. Primitive classification. Translated by Rodney Needham. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                Needham’s introduction is unduly harsh; this early effort in the sociology of knowledge is still worth reading if only for the ambition of its effort and the radically sociological perspective that inspired it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Durkheim, Émile. 1983. Pragmatism and sociology. Translated by J. C. Whitehouse. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Lectures given by Durkheim in 1913–1914, inspired by the then-significant influence in France of the American pragmatist philosophy of William James and John Dewey. Offers a complex comparison of sociological and pragmatist epistemologies, challenging the pragmatists on some points (their basis in the individual mind) and agreeing with them on others (the relativity of knowledge).

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Joas, Hans. 1984. Durkheim et le pragmatisme: La psychologie de la conscience et la constitution sociale des categories. Revue Française de Sociologie 25.4: 560–581.

                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.2307/3321823E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                    A reading of Durkheim’s engagement with pragmatism. Joas ultimately finds the Durkheimian program on knowledge severely limited by the lack of a theory of everyday symbolic interaction.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Namer, Gérard, 1977. La sociologie de la connaissance chez Durkheim et chez les durkheimiens. L’Année Sociologique 28:41–77.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      A solid, brief summary of the arguments of Durkheim and some of his Année comrades (Céléstin Bouglé, Mauss, and Hubert) on the sociology of knowledge. Looks not only at the later Durkheimian work explicitly dealing with this theme, but also at each of the first three published books.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Nielsen, Donald. 1999. Three faces of God: Society, religion, and the categories of the totality in the philosophy of Émile Durkheim. SUNY Series in Religion, Culture, and Society. Albany: State Univ. of New York.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Presents the entirety of Durkheim’s work, but especially the late book on religion, as an effort to respond to the philosophical problem of the category of totality. In Nielsen’s interesting reading, Durkheim reduced religion to the social and equated society with God, as a strategy for integrating traditional religious thinking and emerging social-scientific theory into a holistic field of knowledge.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Pickering, W. S. F., ed. 2000. Durkheim and representations. Routledge Studies in Social and Political Thoughts 22. London: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Examines key conceptual element in Durkheim’s sociology of knowledge, the collective representation. A range of readings of Durkheim’s position from David Bloor’s Wittgensteinian interpretation to Warren Schmaus’s rejection of the very category of collective representations.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Morality

                                                                                                                                                                                          According to Mauss, Durkheim was setting to work on a major book on morality at the time of his death, and the evidence of his concern for moral questions is widespread in his existing writing (e.g., Durkheim 1953). Indeed, all four of his major books dealt with aspects of the sociology of morality, and it is not too much to say that the entirety of his investigation of the division of labor, religion, culture, and knowledge inevitably centered on moral questions. One of the central moral issues raised over and over again in his work had to do with the responsibilities of the individual to society and vice versa. He firmly believed that morality could be studied scientifically and that ultimately a rational morality should emerge as the product of this investigation. A number of contemporary readers have interpreted Durkheim as some kind of communitarian (e.g., Cladis 1992, Watts Miller 1996), who nonetheless enshrines the individual in a privileged position. Bellah 1973 is one of the most thoughtful interpreters of Durkheim, and his introduction to the volume of Durkheim’s writing he edited is not to be missed. Pickering 1979, Pickering and Rosati 2008, and Turner 1993 contain a nice broad range of thought on Durkheimian moral sociology and philosophy.

                                                                                                                                                                                          • Bellah, Robert. 1973. Introduction. In Émile Durkheim on morality and society. Edited by Robert Bellah, ix–lv. Heritage of Sociology. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            All of the Durkheim writings included by Bellah are available elsewhere, but Bellah’s long introduction is worth reading as the reflection of one great sociologist of morality and religion on another.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Cladis, Mark. 1992. A communitarian defense of liberalism: Émile Durkheim and contemporary social theory. Stanford Series in Philosophy. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              Reads Durkheim as constituting a middle way between classical liberalism and communitarianism, mostly inspired by the author’s roots in pragmatism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Durkheim, Émile. 1953. Sociology and philosophy. Translated by D. F. Pocock. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                Three pieces on the philosophical questions of representation and moral facts and judgment, the earliest from 1898, the latest from 1911. Focused on distinguishing individual and social modes of representation and defending a collective perspective on morality.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Pickering, W. S. F., ed. 1979. Durkheim: Essays on morals and education. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Features translations of the introduction to Durkheim’s unfinished La morale, a major work he was contemplating at his death, and a number of other short texts, including book reviews from l’Année Sociologique. Ably framed by Pickering, one of the most prolific authors on things Durkheim of the past half century.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Pickering, W. S. F., and Massimo Rosati, eds. 2008. Suffering and evil: The Durkheimian legacy: Essays in commemoration of the 90th anniversary of Durkheim’s death. New York: Berghahn.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    First half of book dedicated to Durkheim’s engagement with evil; second half traces the legacy of his work in other thinkers. Rosati’s chapter, which describes the framework for the role of evil in religious life that Durkheim laid out in Elementary Forms, is a highlight.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Turner, Stephen, ed. 1993. Émile Durkheim: Sociologist and moralist. London: Routledge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.4324/9780203168257E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Collection of essays by European and American scholars that reestablishes the connection between Durkheim’s pretentions to a science of society and his moral perspective on society and the individual. Philippe Besnard on anomie and fatalism and Robert Alun Jones on Durkheim’s debt to Fustel de Coulanges are particularly strong chapters. E-book.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Watts Miller, Willie. 1996. Durkheim, morals and modernity. McGill-Queen’s Studies in the History of Ideas 20. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        Watts Miller is editor of Durkheimian Studies and an eminent Durkheim scholar. Evaluates Durkheim’s project as a theoretical attempt to describe the passage from “is” to “ought” and establish a modern secular ethic with the individual at the center of its cult.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        Historical and Social Context of the Durkheimian/Annee Sociologique School

                                                                                                                                                                                                        For at least the last thirty years, it has been widely understood among scholars of Durkheim that one cannot say “Durkheim” without also saying “Année Sociologique group.” Durkheim’s understanding of intellectual labor in the construction of the new discipline from at least the mid-1890s was that collective labor in the common interest was the only way to advance knowledge. He therefore gathered around him a group of motivated and talented young thinkers and created the world’s first purely sociological journal. From 1898 to 1913, the first series of the journal reviewed vast amounts of work in a wide range of subfields and published original research from Durkheim and other members of the group, often writing in small collective units. Especially in France, but increasingly elsewhere as well, there is a growing and highly expert literature that looks closely at Durkheim’s work from within the contextual frames of both the Année Sociologique project and the larger intellectual field in France at the turn of the 19th century. Besnard 1983, Karady 1979, and Karady 1988 are representative of the work by two of the most important figures in the French effort beginning in the late 1970s to apply a more sociological framework to the analysis of the founder of French sociology himself. Clark 1973 also thoroughly investigates the position of Durkheimian sociology in the emerging field of French social science, where competitors were omnipresent. More recently, Charle 1990 and Mucchielli 1998 are key entries into this discussion; Charle is in fact a historian, one of the few nonsociologists (along with Ivan Strenski) in the list below. Strenski 1997 situates Durkheimian thought in the French religious context of the day, while Vogt 1976 looks at the institutional factors that reinforced the Durkheimian concentration on primitive societies as the sources for their theories.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Besnard, Philippe, ed. 1983. The sociological domain: The Durkheimians and the founding of French sociology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          A landmark in the study of Durkheim and the Année sociologique school. Carefully demonstrates the collective nature of work in the Durkheimian school, with Durkheim as leader who nonetheless relied heavily on the collaboration of others (his nephew Marcel Mauss, Henri Hubert, Paul Fauconnet, Georges Simiand, and Maurice Halbwachs, among many others). Indispensable.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Charle, Christophe. 1990. Naissance des “intellectuels” 1880–1900. Sens Commun. Paris: Éditions de Minuit.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            Single most thorough effort to describe the alignment of intellectual factions around the Dreyfus Affair, this book will help the reader more thoroughly understand where Durkheim and his colleagues positioned themselves on this crucial issue and how this reflected their position in the intellectual world.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Clark, Terry. 1973. Prophets and patrons: The French university and the emergence of the social sciences. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thorough account of the various forces at work in the creation of the Durkheimian school, the first properly named school of sociology in the world. Clark views Durkheim as an effective “cluster leader” who knew how to work institutionally to increase sociology’s purview.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Karady, Victor. 1979. Stratégies de réussite et modes de faire-valoir de la sociologie chez les durkheimiens. Revue Française de Sociologie 20.1: 49–82.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.2307/3321264E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Describes in careful detail the factors that enabled Durkheim to achieve the acceptance of sociology by the Parisian intellectual world at the fin-de-siècle. Karady looks at what was involved in attaining both institutional and scientific legitimacy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Karady, Victor. 1988. Durkheim et les débuts de l’ethnologie universitaire. Actes de la Recherche en Sciences Sociales 74:23–32.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.3406/arss.1988.2431E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Looks at the effects the academic victories of Durkheim and his school had in transforming the discipline of ethnology/anthropology from a minor academic backwater to one of the central spaces in the contemporary French social sciences.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Mucchielli, Laurent. 1998. La découverte du social: Naissance de la sociologie en France (1870–1914). Textes à l’Appui. Paris: Éditions la Découverte.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Effort to explain the rise of Durkheimian sociology to prominence in the nascent scene of French social science by focusing on the collective research team and program established by Durkheim around the Année Sociologique.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Strenski, Ivan. 1997. Durkheim and the Jews of France. Chicago Studies in the History of Judaism. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Situates Durkheim as an intellectual ally of a variety of conservative Judaism typified by Sylvain Lévi, a renowned Indologist, even arguing that Durkheim’s “societist” and ritualist conception of religion can be found there.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Vogt, W. Paul. 1976. The uses of studying primitives: A note on the Durkheimians, 1890–1940. History and Theory 15.1: 33–44.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.2307/2504875E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Argues that the Durkheimian decision to consider data from primitive societies as a primary source in their work was motivated by a combination of disciplinary, professional, and sociopolitical factors.

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