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Les sciences sociales et l’action

Un cas révélateur

Marie Jaisson

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Marcel Mauss’s ‘Internal Critique of the “Legend of Abraham”’

Adeel Hamza and John Gannon

Abstract

This introduces the first English translation of Marcel Mauss’s article, ‘Critique interne de la “Légende de l’Abraham”’, published in 1926 in the Revue des études juives. In suggesting ways in which the translation offers anglophone scholars new perspectives on Mauss’s thought, it explains how his sophisticated textual exegesis of the Legend of Abraham drew on nineteenth-century scholars such as Salomon Munk, but also how it above all involved a critique of deeply racist currents of European social thought. In particular, Mauss challenged a racist anthropology of African societies that became known as the ‘Hamitic hypothesis’ and linked it with the agitation over the ‘Jewish Question’ that continued to persist and was even growing in the world around him. A fundamental argument of his essay is that the social category of ‘race’ is not a category that denotes civility, but a system of categorization that stems from an analysis he deems ‘wanton’.

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Book Reviews

Robert Parkin, W. S. F. Pickering, and Simonetta Falasca-Zamponi

Robert Hertz. OEuvres publiées: édition critique, ed. Cyril Isnart, Paris: Classiques Garniers, 2014, 466 pp. Review by Robert Parkin

Matthieu Béra. Emile Durkheim à Bordeaux (1887–1902), Bordeaux: Éditions Confluences, 2014, 135 pp. Review by W. S. F. Pickering

Alexander Riley, The Social Thought of Émile Durkheim, Los Angeles and London: Sage, 2015, xi + 263 pp. Review by W. S. F. Pickering

Sondra Hausner (ed.), Durkheim in Dialogue: A Centenary Celebration of The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, New York and Oxford: Berghahn, 2013, 267 pp. Review by Simonetta Falasca-Zamponi

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Durkheim's Concealed Sociology of the Crowd

Eduardo Cintra Torres

This article aims to bring out Durkheim's development of a pioneering sociology of the crowd, overlapping with yet going beyond psychological theories of the time. It begins by exploring the terminology used by Durkheim, colleagues and contemporaries in referring to crowds/gatherings/assemblies, and next asks about the social, political and intellectual context in which 'the crowd' became a key issue, as in the Dreyfus Affair and among writers such as Tarde. It then focuses on the issue's discussion in Durkheim's new journal, the Année sociologique, as well as in his own major works, but above all in Les Formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse, which offers a seminal, if concealed, sociology of the crowd.

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Durkheim's Concept of Mechanical Solidarity

Where Did It Go?

Bjørn Schiermer

This article attempts to put forward new perspectives on solidarity in Durkheim's work, useful for an understanding of contemporary reality. First, it sketches why his modern 'cult of man' should be understood as an instance of mechanical solidarity, and discusses how to generalize this scenario and move beyond the idea of the 'cult of man' as mechanical solidarity's sole modern instance. Next, it investigates some of the shortcomings of Durkheim's diagnosis of modernity itself. This is in an effort to show how these shortcomings – reflected in his critique of the modern economy, his interactionism, his focus on the whole and his insensitivity to the ephemeral and aesthetic – led Durkheim to overlook the persistence of mechanical solidarity in the modern world and hindered him from developing the explanatory potential of his sociology of religion in a modern context. The article then explores the dynamic, decentred, 'individualized' and mediated nature of contemporary forms of collective formation by selectively extrapolating from the relation in Durkheim's work between the individual and the social. Finally, in returning to the question of mechanical solidarity in modern society, it outlines the contours of a concept of collective consciousness applicable to a modern setting.

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Durkheim's University Library Loans at Bordeaux

Preliminary Investigations

Matthieu Béra

This article explores the significance of recently discovered records of Durkheim's university library loans during his time at Bordeaux. After introducing and explaining the nature of these records, and presenting various quantitative and qualitative issues raised by them, the article concentrates on understanding Durkheim's loans through tracking the different main uses he made of them. This first involves their role in his publications, but is then above all a concern with how they fed into his lectures. Discussion starts with his courses in sociology, moves on to those in education and psychology, and finishes with his preparation of students for an examination in philosophy (the agrégation). Although a few of Durkheim's courses survive, his library loans are a way to throw light on lectures that mostly seem lost forever.

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Le centenaire atypique des Formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse

Nicolas Sembel

Stéphane Gumpper & Franklin Rausky (eds), Dictionnaire de psychologie et psychopathologie des religions, Montrouge : Bayard, 2013, 1372 p.

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Obituary

Massimo Rosati

W. S. F. Pickering and Raquel Weiss

Durkheimian studies around the world have suffered a great loss, a totally unexpected tragic one, in the early death of Massimo Rosati. Here was a formidable, up-and-coming Italian scholar, whose work was much influenced by Durkheim and of whom he was a notable interpreter. Now, at the age of forty-four, he has died.

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Society as Representation

Durkheim, Psychology and the 'Dualism of Human Nature'

Simonetta Falasca-Zamponi

Against readings that have emphasized Durkheim's sociological realism and reductionism, this article examines the role of individuality and psychology in his theory. In particular, Durkheim's approach to representations is the proof of the crucial importance he assigned to mental processes in the construction of social life. Durkheim showed the relation of representations to the collectivity – how ideas promote the sense of community – and in this context he emphasized their epistemological ramifications. Specifically, he pointed to a series of dualisms that remained unexplained by psychological analysis, including the one posing rational against affective logic. While arguing for the preeminence of ideas in Durkheim's view of society, the article also recognizes the limitations that marred his efforts at reconciling the individual with society. Most notably, his genetic approach and his account of the central role of affect in the creation of the social made Durkheim vulnerable to criticism. Even his late essay on the dualism of human nature, which testifies to his lifelong confrontations with psychology, left a whole set of questions unanswered about his theory's applicability to historical forms of institutionalization of the social, especially in modernity.

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Sur une édition critique de l' « Esquisse d'une théorie de la magie »

Jean-François Bert and Nicolas Meylan

L’histoire des sciences humaines et sociales, du moins telle qu’elle est racontée dans les manuels généralistes, tend à nous faire oublier que les savoirs savants s’inscrivent aussi dans des conversations, des interactions et des rencontres. Les idées naissent plus souvent qu’on ne le pense de situations et de conditions « normales ». Aussi, et comme l’a bien montré Christian Topalov en analysant en détail le cas du sociologue Maurice Halbwachs en visite aux Etats-Unis, il est parfois profitable d’en passer par une « ethnographie des pratiques d’un savant », c’est-à-dire de suivre ses cheminements dans les réseaux, de découvrir ses occupations, ses rencontres, ses lectures jusqu’à ses promenades (Topalov 2012 : 12–13).