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Contribution to a Debate

'On the Separation of the Churches and the State'

Émile Durkheim

This is the first English translation of Durkheim's contribution to an important debate on the separation of church and state (1905) - in the course of which he remarked, to an outburst from those present, that 'From a sociological point of view, the Church is a monstrosity'. The translation comes with an introduction and editorial notes by W. S. F. Pickering, explaining the background to the debate, identifying the participants, and recommending some of the many books and articles on the issue.

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Raymond Boudon

This is an essay – along with another, by Frank Pearce – on The Cambridge Companion to Durkheim (2005). The collection is heterogeneous, and good in parts. But there are also basic themes, driven by the concerns of the editor-in-chief, Jeffrey Alexander – especially with a 'cultural turn' in how Durkheim is interpreted. Accordingly, a major criticism is that Durkheim's 'culturalism' isn't a relativistic 'culturalism', but looks for universals. His work conjugates the contextual and the universal. It also conjugates the rational and the emotional, in a continuation rather than a radical break with Kant. But it is above all in a commitment to science, and to a search for explanation through intelligible connections in the underlying dynamics of social life. Accordingly, another major criticism is not only the collection's tendency to downplay reason, but a sort of black hole in which it fails to tackle Durkheim's very idea of a social science.

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Rafael Faraco Benthien and Émile Durkheim

Nous présentons ici un ensemble de quinze lettres d’Émile Durkheim adressées à Salomon Reinach. Quatorze proviennent du fonds d’archives Salomon Reinach se trouvant à la Bibliothèque Méjanes à Aix-en-Provence et celle en date du 14 mars 1902 des dossiers de correspondance du Musée d’Archéologie nationale de Saint-Germainen-Laye. Les originaux ici transcrits n’ont subi aucune altération, aucun fragment n’en a été supprimé et l’ensemble des documents concerne la période située entre 1898 et 1913.

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Guy van de Walle

Among the many theories of socialization, that of Durkheim stands out. While most analyses of socialization are individualistic, that of Durkheim is holistic. This singularity presents a challenge to the modern mind, which is dominated by individualism. Reading Durkheim's analysis of socialization, like the rest of his work, requires the difficult task of overcoming one's natural tendency to do so through an individualistic lens. This paper is an attempt to restore the original holistic meaning of this analysis. It aims to correct some of Durkheim's commentators' re-interpretations of his views and the everyday language that he uses in individualistic terms. Particular attention is given to Durkheim's distinction between authority and power. This distinction has huge implications for Durkheim's interpretation of socialization, which he sees as a process that primarily involves a particular relationship - one that he describes in terms of 'submission' - with the authority of society.

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Frank Pearce

This is an essay – along with another, by Raymond Boudon – on The Cambridge Companion to Durkheim (2005), edited by Jeffrey Alexander and Philip Smith. With becoming modesty, the editors admit that their argument for a 'cultural turn' in Durkheimian interpretation isn't universally accepted. Yet there is little sign, in their collection, of contributions that dispute their position. Certainly, some of the articles are interesting and stimulating, though others are modest in another sense, even quite flawed – as in some of their ideas about America. True, in his own article, Alexander makes a good enough case for a 'cultural turn'. But he seems unaware of Durkheim's last publication in his lifetime, 'The Politics of the Future' (1917). And in general, it is necessary to challenge 'culturalism'. This essay suggests an alternative, based not only on The Division of Labour, but the continuing relevance of Durkheim's belief in the need for socialism.

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W. S .F. Pickering

In Durkheim’s time, Gustave Belot was an active, well-known participant in debates on social issues. Nowadays he is a marginal, largely forgotten figure. This essay aims to provide an introduction to his life and work, in which he was in many ways sympathetic with Durkheim’s project for a social science but was also highly critical of it. The discussion concentrates on Belot’s position on ethics and religion, to bring out where he supported Durkheim and where he attacked him on these two areas of central concern to them both. In particular, it focuses on Durkheim’s critique of Belot’s Etudes de morale positive, then in turn on Belot’s critique of Durkheim’s Formes élémentaires.

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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, Mauss et la dynamogénie

Le lien Gley (1857–1930)

Nicolas Sembel

This article develops that of William Watts Miller (in Durkheimian Studies 2005), who called for further detective work on the idea of ‘dynamogénie’. My investigations show a way of linking it with Durkheim and Mauss in bringing out that Eugène Gley – according to Mauss, a ‘lifelong friend’ of Durkheim’s – was one of the last to work with the idea’s chief originator, C-E. Brown-Séquard, a doctor who succeeded Claude Bernard at the Collège de France and a central figure in Watts Miller’s article. ‘Dynamogénie’ was first described by Brown-Séquard in 1851 in relation to a case of religious ecstasy, and was characterized by him as an exceptional and unconscious mobilization of nervous and muscular energy. It was then actively – if somewhat mysteriously – taken up by Durkheim and Mauss over sixty years later in their co-signed review of Les Formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse. Gley, whose trajectory ran in parallel with Durkheim’s and to a lesser extent Mauss’s, constitutes a link between them and ‘dynamogénie’ that helps us fill out the two men’s intellectual horizons.

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Durkheim

Une sociologie d’État

Catherine Colliot-Thélène

It is traditional to discuss the relation between Durkheim and Weber as ‘founders of sociology’. At first sight, it might seem odd to couple Durkheim and Hegel. But it can be instructive to compare their approach to issues involving modern individualism, society and the state. In general, they subscribe to a combination of rationalism and developmental ethics, in which the rational is immanent in the real, despite the possibility of ‘contingent’ or ‘pathological’ departures from ‘normality’. More specifically, in the case of the state, they see one of its main historical roles as the emancipation of the individual in a development of the individual personality. At the same time they picture the state as ‘the brain’ of society and insist on its relative autonomy and independence from individuals. Instead, in a critique of direct democracy, they look to a web of intermediate groups and corporations. A basic problematic in their work, and a continuing source of reflection, is how to achieve a balance between individual rights and a necessary authority and legitimacy of public power. In both cases this balance rests, as a matter of principle, on confidence in the skills and civic virtue of political leaders.

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Échange, don, réciprocité

l'acte de 'donner' chez Simmel et Durkheim

Luca Guizzardi and Luca Martignani

This focuses on a key topic for comparison of two masters of sociological thought, Georg Simmel and Émile Durkheim: the question of giving in the context of social exchange. Durkheim deals with the issue in introducing the concept of organic solidarity, based on the division of social labour and implying the interdependence of individuals. This representation of solidarity links with the interest in credit and debt relations in Simmel's philosophy of money and with a perspective in which reciprocity is conceived as one of the main sociological functions involved in the representation of social bonds. After a comparison of Durkheim and Simmel's theories of reciprocity, a specific case discussed is the mortgage, conceived as a paradigm of the shape assumed by the immaterial reality of reciprocity in institutional and everyday life.