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A biography of emile durkheim the french sociologist

He is widely regarded as the founder of the French school of sociology. Childhood and education Durkheim was born into a Jewish family of very modest means, and it was taken for granted that he would become a rabbilike his father.

The death of his father before Durkheim was 20, however, burdened him with heavy responsibilities. As early as his late teens Durkheim became convinced that effort and even sorrow are more conducive to the spiritual progress of the individual than pleasure or joy.

He became a gravely disciplined young man. Durkheim was respected by his peers and teachers, but he was impatient with the excessive stress on elegant rhetoric and surface polish then prevalent in French higher education.

His teachers of philosophy struck him as too fond of generalities and too worshipful of the past. Fretting at the conventionality of formal examinations, Durkheim passed the last competitive examination in 1882 but without the brilliance that his friends had predicted for him.

A Biography of Emile Durkheim, a French Sociologist

He then accepted a series of provincial assignments as a teacher of philosophy at the state secondary schools of Sens, Saint-Quentin, and Troyes between 1882 and 1887. In 1887 he was appointed lecturer at the University of Bordeaux, where he subsequently became a professor and taught social philosophy until 1902.

He then moved to the University of Pariswhere he wrote some of his most important works and influenced a generation of scholars. It has been noted, however, at times with disapproval and amazement by non-French social scientists, that Durkheim traveled little and that, like many French scholars and the notable British anthropologist Sir James Frazerhe never undertook any fieldwork.

The vast information Durkheim studied on the tribes of Australia and New Guinea and on the Eskimos was all collected by other anthropologists, travelers, or missionaries. This was not due to provincialism or lack of attention to the concrete.

Durkheim did not resemble the French philosopher Auguste Comte in making venturesome and dogmatic generalizations while disregarding empirical observation.

He did, however, maintain that concrete observation in remote parts of the world does not always lead to illuminating views on the past or even on the present. For him, facts had no intellectual meaning unless they were grouped into types and laws.

He claimed repeatedly that it is from a construction erected on the inner nature of the real that knowledge of concrete reality is obtained, a knowledge not perceived by observation of the facts from the outside. He thus constructed concepts such as the sacred and totemism exactly in the same way that Karl Marx developed the concept of class.

Émile Durkheim

The outward events of his life as an intellectual and as a scholar may appear undramatic. Still, much of what he thought and wrote stemmed from the events that he witnessed in his formative years, in the 1870s and 1880s, and in the earnest concern he took in them.

The Second Empirewhich collapsed in the 1870 defeat of the French at the hands of Germany, had signified an era of levity and dissipation to the young scholar.

  • Durkheim was respected by his peers and teachers, but he was impatient with the excessive stress on elegant rhetoric and surface polish then prevalent in French higher education;
  • Durkheim was a pioneer French sociologist, trained at Bordeaux 1887-1902 and the University of Paris 1902-17;
  • The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life 1912 introduced a hypothesis of religion, looking at the social and social existences of native and current social orders;
  • He perceived around him the prevalence of anomie, a personal sense of rootlessness fostered by the absence of social norms;
  • In 1896, therefore, putting aside his work on the history of socialism, Durkheim devoted himself to establishing a massive program of journalistic collaboration based upon a complex division of intellectual labor.

Francewith the support of many of its liberal and intellectual elements, had plunged headlong into a war for which it was unprepared; its leaders proved incapable. The bloody repression that followed the Commune was taken as further evidence of the ruthlessness of capitalism and of the selfishness of the frightened bourgeoisie. Later, the crisis of 1886 over Georges Boulangerthe minister of war who demanded a centralist government to execute a policy of revenge against Germany, was one of several events that testified to the resurgence of nationalismsoon to be accompanied by anti-Semitism.

Such major French thinkers of the older generation as Ernest Renan and Hippolyte Taine interrupted their historical and philosophical works after 1871 to analyze those evils and to offer remedies.

He perceived around him the prevalence of anomie, a personal sense of rootlessness fostered by the absence of social norms. Material prosperity set free greed and passions that threatened the equilibrium of society.

He believed that societies with undifferentiated labour i.

emile durkheim,French Social Scientist Biography

The division of labour rendered workers more alien to one another and yet more dependent upon one another; specialization meant that no individual labourer would build a product on his or her own. Thus, the apparently purely individual decision to renounce life could be explained through social forces.

But the new science of sociology frightened timid souls and conservative philosophers, and he had to endure many attacks. He took an active part in the campaign to exonerate Dreyfus.

  1. It happens amid modern or budgetary emergencies. Without these fundamental likenesses, collaboration, social solidarity and in this manner social life itself would be unthinkable.
  2. His gaunt and nervous appearance filled his colleagues with foreboding. The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life 1912 introduced a hypothesis of religion, looking at the social and social existences of native and current social orders.
  3. Be that as it may, the reliance of aptitudes and trade of merchandise and ventures are in themselves, deficient as a reason for social solidarity.
  4. Later, the crisis of 1886 over Georges Boulanger , the minister of war who demanded a centralist government to execute a policy of revenge against Germany, was one of several events that testified to the resurgence of nationalism , soon to be accompanied by anti-Semitism.
  5. He was the s on of a rabbi and descending from an extended line of rabbis, he decided early on that he'd follow the family tradition and be a rabbi himself. After resting for several months, relieved by America's entry into the war, he recovered sufficiently to again take up his work on La Morale; but on November 15, 1917, he died at the age of 59.

Perhaps as a result, Durkheim was not elected to the Institut de France, although his stature as a thinker suggests that he should have been named to that prestigious learned society. He was, however, appointed to the University of Paris in 1902 and was made a full professor there in 1906.

His efforts included participating in numerous committees to prepare new curriculums and methods; working to enliven the teaching of philosophy, which too long had dwelt on generalities; and attempting to teach teachers how to teach.

French conservatives—who in the years preceding World War I turned against the Sorbonne, which they charged was unduly swayed by the prestige of German scholarship—railed at Durkheim, who, they thought, was influenced by the German urge to systematize, thereby making a fetish of society and a religion of sociology.

  1. He introduced the machine and hypothetical framework of accurate public science. This uniformity binds members of society together in a close-knit.
  2. He expects that the standards and qualities transmitted by the instructive framework are those of society all in all instead of those of the decision first class or a decision class. Such major French thinkers of the older generation as Ernest Renan and Hippolyte Taine interrupted their historical and philosophical works after 1871 to analyze those evils and to offer remedies.
  3. The outbreak of World War I came as a cruel blow to him. He introduced the machine and hypothetical framework of accurate public science.
  4. As an administrator, he sat on the Council of the University as well as on many other councils and committees throughout the University and the Ministry of Public Instruction, and though largely averse to politics, he numbered many powerful politicians among his personal friends.
  5. So he accepted that exclusive social actualities could clarify it.

The outbreak of World War I came as a cruel blow to him. For many years he had expended too much energy on teaching, on writing, on outlining plans for reform, and on ceaselessly feeding the enthusiasm of his disciplesand eventually his heart had been affected.

His gaunt and nervous appearance filled his colleagues with foreboding. The whole of French sociology, then in full bloom thanks to him, seemed to be his responsibility. Death and legacy The breaking point came when his only son was killed in 1916, while fighting on the Balkan front. He died in November 1917. Durkheim left behind him a brilliant school of researchers.

He had never been a tyrannical master; he had encouraged his disciples to go farther than himself and to contradict him if need be.

Through him, sociology became a seminal discipline in France that broadened and transformed the study of laweconomics, Chinese institutions, linguistics, ethnology, art historyand history.