Durkheim's Aesthetics: A Neglected Argument? For quite some time now, Durkheimian sociology has been viewed as paying scant attention to art. Indeed, one can imagine that Durkheim was too busy establishing the fundamentals of his discipline to indulge in the more recreational aspects of social life. Sociologists build theories and consider serious topics (e.g. capital, division of labour, rationality and so on) and do not give extra-time to what's happening after the working day. If we look at indices and textbooks, this lack of interest is obvious. The upgrading of culture as a central feature of sociological investigation is a rather recent phenomenon (Alexander 2003, Fabiani 1993). In many ways this has to do with the emergence of cultural industries, which forced sociologists to analyze, first in a very critical manner, social changes brought about by the mass consumption of symbolic commodities. Today the sociology of art and culture has moved from the periphery to the centre. In France in particular, these topics have been taken up so as to renew theories and build intellectual reputations. Durkheim, of course, never planned to draw up any sociological aesthetics, as Bourdieu attempted to do in Distinction (1979). Although from today's perspective Bourdieu's book may be considered as a partial failure, one cannot deny the panache and inventiveness it involved, largely based as it was upon the recognition of the high sociological significance of cultural and artistic matters. Bourdieu's interest in art and literature was central from the very beginning of his career, and one of his first attempts to define the concept of field (champ) appeared in a paper devoted to literature (Bourdieu 1967). Things are obviously very different with Durkheim.
Émile Durkheim ou de l'éducation
This presentation is an invitation to reconsider the importance of Durkheim's lectures on educational systems and pedagogy. Although pedagogy and the 'science of education' were the only way of starting a university career when sociology did not exist as an institutionalized discipline, one should not limit Durkheim's effort to academic strategy. Texts on education are central in the definition of morality, but they may also be viewed as a bench test for developing historical sociology, for introducing new notions (particularly concerning the inertia of a social system) or for refining key concepts (density, corporation, mobility).
Critical Moves on Method and Truth
Stéphane Baciocchi and Jean-Louis Fabiani
Durkheim’s course of twenty lectures on pragmatism, given at the Sorbonne during the academic year 1913 to 1914, has been regularly reassessed, particularly since an apparently complete English translation (1983). Far from being marginal in Durkheim’s work, as claimed by Steven Lukes (1973), the lectures seem central for understanding Durkheim’s epistemology and methodology. This was initially set out in his two doctoral theses – the main one on the division of labour (1893) – then substantially reworked in later writings, particularly Les Formes élémentaires (1912). Unfortunately, we know the lectures only from a posthumous reconstruction by the faithful Durkheimian and sympathiser with Marxism, the philosopher Armand Cuvillier, who published Pragmatisme et sociologie in 1955, drawing on two anonymous sets of ‘student notes’ that later disappeared. It is thus difficult to know the scope and effect of Cuvillier’s own rewriting of these notes. Moreover, he made his reconstruction forty-two years after the actual presentation by Durkheim at the Sorbonne. The sociological context in France was by this time entirely different. The most prominent sociologists, such as Jean Stoetzel, were outspoken anti-Durkheimians in their demand for an empirical knowledge clearly severed from any philosophical foundation. The Durkheimians who tried to pursue the founder’s endeavour in the interwar period were dead. The very first reviews of Cuvillier’s edition indicate that Durkheimianism seemed to belong to the intellectual past, at least since the death of Marcel Mauss in 1950.
Irène Eulriet, W. D. Halls, Mike Hawkins, Jean-Louis Fabiani, Jean de Lannoy, Giovanni Paoletti, W. S. F. Pickering, Romain Pudal, Ilkka Pyysiäinen, Alexander T. Riley, Massimo Rosati, and W. Watts Miller
Notes on contributors