Sociology Index

David Émile Durkheim

David Emile Durkheim is credited with establishing the discipline of sociology for academic purposes and is widely regarded as the chief architect of modern social science. Emile Durkheim published several works on topics like morality, religion, and education. David Emile Durkheim also played a major role in the development of sociology and anthropology as disciplines. Among distinguished sociologists, French sociologist and founding father of modern sociology David Émile Durkheim defined and established the autonomy of sociology as a discipline. David Émile Durkheim equated homogeneous or redundant skills to mechanical solidarity whose inertia retarded adaptation. Émile Durkheim also contrasted this with the self-regulating behaviour of a division of Labour based on differences in constituency, equated to organic solidarity. David Émile Durkheim set up the first European department of sociology and became France's first professor of sociology.

He established the journal L'Année Sociologique in (1898). David Émile Durkheim adopted a collectivist perspective in all his sociological analysis. He denied that the utilitarian version of individualism could provide the basis on which to build a stable society. His assertion was that the sociological method was to deal with social facts. Rules of the Sociological Method (1895). David Émile Durkheim with Karl Marx and Max Weber is considered the main architect of modern social science. Emile Durkheim is one of the trinity of ‘fathers of sociology’ because his pioneering research and belief in sociology helped it come to be seen as a science.

Most of his work centred on how societies could maintain their coherence in the face of modern life at a time when the typically understood social norms and power structures could no longer be maintained; as with everything, times change. His first major work was The Division of Labour in Society in which he advanced the theory of the discipline.In the book Durkheim and After: The Durkheimian Tradition, 1893-2020, Philip Smith examines not only Durkheim’s original ideas, but also reveals how he inspired more than a century of theoretical innovations, identifying the key paths, bridges, and dead ends, as well as the tensions and resolutions, in what has been a remarkably complex intellectual history.

His work reflects his opposition to the utilitarian tradition in British social thought, which sought to explain social phenomena by referring to the actions and motives of individuals. In The Division of Labour in Society (1893), he argued that social order in industrial societies could not adequately be explained as an outcome of contractual agreements between individuals motivated by self-interest.

He argued that the pursuit of self-interest would lead to social instability, as manifest in various forms of social deviant behavior such as suicide. He distinguished the forms of social order found in primitive and modern societies. Mechanical solidarity in primitive societies was based on the common beliefs and consensus was found in the conscience collective. Durkheim's Suicide (1897), a study of suicide rates amongst Catholic and Protestant populations, served to distinguish social science from psychology and political philosophy. The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912), a theory of religion, compared the social and cultural lives of aboriginal and modern societies.