Emile Durkheim: biography and works

The formation of society, its views in the system of beliefs, political beliefs, as well as social integration in the period of development of science and the rapid pace of life development led to the need to analyze patterns in the process of human adaptation in society.

Human and society

Until the middle of the nineteenth century, the general questions of the psychological interrelation of the individual and society belonged to the category of philosophy and did not have a clear mechanism of logical analysis. However, in the second half of the nineteenth century, an understanding emerged about the need to create a general model of psychoanalysis based on behavioral characteristics and integration of the individual in society.

The founders of sociology as a separate science are Karl Marx, Max Weber, Auguste Comte and Emile Durkheim. Sociology, today, is an independent science that studies society as an integral system. In turn, society includes social institutions, social processes, communities and a person interacting with society.

Biography of the French sociologist Emile Durkheim

Durkheim was born on April 15 in 1857 in the city of Epinal, located in northeastern France.Emil DurkheimHis father, grandfather and great-grandfather devoted themselves to religion - served as rabbis. Naturally, David was also sent to receive a rabbi’s education. However, after the death of his father, he abandoned the path of religion and went to college in his hometown.

In 1879, he repeatedly tried to enroll in the Higher Norman School of Paris, but only managed to pass the entrance exams from the third time.
After graduation, he taught philosophy at ordinary educational institutions on the outskirts of the capital.

In 1885, Emil decided to go to Germany to communicate with leading philosophers of the time. He understood that the existing social philosophy is fluid and indefinite - does not answer most of the existing questions, bypassing only illogical spatial explanations. The desire to understand more, pushed Emil to look for answers in Germany, where he hoped to get new knowledge and methods of philosophical understanding of the social life of society.

Returning home, David Durkheim began teaching social science and ethics at the Faculty of Philology at the University of Bordeaux.Somewhat later, in 1893, he defended his doctoral dissertation on the division of social labor.

Sociology acquires the status of a separate science

Three years later, he was asked to head the department of social science at the university. This was the first department of sociology among universities in France and Europe as a whole.

Over the next three years, continuing to work at the University of Bordeaux, the scientist publishes two works that have become world-famous: The Rule of Social Method in 1895 and Suicide in 1897.

From 1897 to 1913, Durkheim led the first specialized journal in sociology called the sociological yearbook. In the future, all those who worked on the publication organized a scientific community called the French Sociological School. Later, the community played a key role in the understanding of sociology in France during the life of Emile Durkheim and after.Emil Durkheim books

After receiving the title of professor, Durkheim went to work at the Sorbonne and headed the department of "science of education." Later in 1913, the department was renamed, incorporating sociology, - "the science of education and sociology." Around this period, a French sociologist publishes the latest key work, “Elementary Forms of Religious Life,”which has become the mainstay of modern sociology.

Emile Durkheim briefly outlines the basic principles of sociology.

The French sociologist has published more than two hundred papers, including articles, reviews and specialized lectures. Emil Durkheim belongs to the study and systematization of the concept of the subject of sociology. Research scientist formed the basis of most sociological theories, and above all in the structural-psychological analysis.

According to the theory of Emile Durkheim, the subject of sociology is the understanding that political, moral, legal, and religious aspects influence society as a whole. And the values, norms and ideas developed by society have a compulsory influence on each individual. They force everyone to act and make decisions within the framework of accepted norms in society.

The theory of Emile Durkheim describes, in contrast to the assertions of Comte's sociology predecessor, the existence of various ways of forming societies throughout the world.

Having completely different motives and ideas in their basis, they cannot be considered using an identical analysis mechanism. Applying the same tool to different models of society will lead to deliberately erroneous results.

New Paradigm of Emil Durkheim

The sociological concept of Emile Durkheim is based on the study of real social factors and elements that shape society. His views were reformatory and radical.

In his analysis, the sociologist tracked two factors in society that influenced its formation: naturalism and social realism. What was meant by these terms and what is their meaning?

By naturalism, Emile Durkheim understood the connection with nature and the traditions of society.
He saw social realism in phenomena unrelated to the material part of human life. Realism flowed from the norms and definitions that are emerging in society.

Some key definitions of a French sociologist

Today, sociology is defined by the understandings and attitudes that Emil Durkheim established at the time. The works of the sociologist formed the basis of the modern interpretation and mechanism for analyzing the structure of society and its connection with each person.

Consider some of the definitions of Durkheim, used now.
Subspecies of societies:

  1. An archaic society is a group or society characterized by a mechanical mode of interaction.The individual's own individual consciousness is practically dissolved in the collective consciousness.
  2. Industrial society - is determined by the presence of division of labor, various specializations and activities. In this case, there is a functional interdependence and the need for joint work. The more primitive the society, the more similar the individuals are to each other and the higher the level of coercion and violence. The greater the differences in society, the higher the level of tolerance towards each other and the deeper the manifestation of democracy.
  3. There is also an understanding of the formation of a civil society, where at an early stage the concentration of the collective will on one person is formed - the leader. He is granted the rights to solve all the tasks of society on behalf of one person. As a rule, after this begins the formation of a group of people - bigmenov. The main means and political levers that they use to their advantage fall into their hands. Historically, this model existed from the fifth century AD to the French Revolution. The new stage determined the people's right to property and the will of everyone, regardless of status and status.

According to Emile Durkheim, a person is defined as a dual reality, where the struggle between the social and individual personality takes place.

The role of social solidarity in society

The question of social solidarity in society was considered by many sociologists, and it was Emil Durkheim who took this problem more seriously. The works of the French sociologist of the late nineteenth - early twentieth century revealed the key role of solidarity among people in the process of forming an integral society.sociological concept of Emil Durkheim

He believed that this was the main cementing and unifying force in society. The level of solidarity determines the coherence and clarity of the interaction of people, in the presence of a division of labor in society.

The division of labor in society introduces more diversity, and the higher this indicator, the greater the human desire for exchange and cohesion. The exchange, according to Emile Durkheim, presupposes the existence of a contract in which both parties undertake mutual obligations. Hence the cooperation and collaboration. The foundations of the contract are governed by the rules and rules of social interaction.They, in turn, rely on the social institutions of society.

Types of solidarity in society

Emile Durkheim defined two types of solidarity between people in society:
mechanical and organic.

By mechanical solidarity, he understood the condition when people performed the same functions and did not have distinctive features. This definition was based on an understanding of the mechanisms of pre-industrial society.

Under organic solidarity, a sociologist has seen a society in which people are more different from each other and interact in certain ways. An example would be the human body itself, where there is interaction and complementarity of different parts of the body.

Collective consciousness

The first who introduced the concept of collective consciousness - the phenomenon that determines the "character" of society, was Emile Durkheim.

Sociology as a separate science considers the totality of common interests, beliefs, beliefs, feelings and values ​​as a kind of collective consciousness - the common denominator of a certain group or society.according to the theory of Emil Durkheim, the subject of sociology is
Unlike Emil Durkheim, modern sociology does not consider that the collective consciousness is much higher than the personal one and does not consider God to be its position.
The modern understanding of the psychology of personality determines that society has a direct impact on the development of individuality. However, it emphasizes the need to value and resolve issues individually. For example, the serious problem of the individual is suicide, first studied by the French sociologist Emile Durkheim. The books and the works of the scientist revealed the direct relationship between the causes of human suicide and the role of society in this.

Subsequently, for more than a hundred years, the works of Durkheim became an educational tool in the work of modern psychologists and sociologists.

Suicide, influence of society and external factors

Until the end of the nineteenth century, research in the field of suicidal cases was reduced to a rather superficial analysis.Emil Durkheim suicideAccording to the existing theory, it was believed that suicide was a consequence of geographic, climatic, biological, seasonal, psychological or pathological factors.

The first who seriously approached the issue of suicide, conducted the collection and analysis of statistical data in various countries, was the French sociologist Emile Durkheim. Suicide, as the researcher believed, is a purely social fact.It is not determined by the geography and biology of the individual.

As the scientist believed, society is a kind of field where agreements, expectations, or denials arise in the process of communication between people. The moment of growth of denial, the lack of a solution and the complete isolation in society push a person into suicidal actions.Emil Durkheim Theory
Based on the different levels of influence of social norms on the personality, Emile Durkheim identified the following types of suicides:

  1. Egoistic suicide is the deliberate cessation of a person’s social connection based purely on his own opinion.
  2. Altruistic suicide - is a product of the integration of the individual into society. An example is the captain of a ship that, according to the code, must die along with the ship in the event of a shipwreck.
  3. Anomic suicide - arises from the loss of old values ​​and norms in society. At the same time, new values ​​and norms that a person could take were not formed. A similar model is characteristic of societies undergoing transformation.sociological concept of Emil DurkheimFor example, rapid urbanization or man-made growth.
  4. Fatalistic suicide - arises due to the excessive control of society over the actions of the individual.Thus, a person loses his own opinion and control over himself. According to Emile Durkheim, fatalistic suicide is not widespread.

During the statistical analysis, the sociologist discovered:

  • Suicide is less common among those who are married.
  • In military society, the indicator was also higher than among the civilian population.
  • He noted that in peacetime the number of suicides is higher than during the war.
  • It also emerged a pattern between the country's economy and suicide. If a country is experiencing economic ups and downs, then there are more suicides than with a more evenly developing economy.Emil Durkheim briefly
  • When analyzing the statistics of the urban and rural population, it turned out that suicides occur more frequently in the city.

Based on an analysis of all sectors of society, Emil Durkheim found out that suicide, as a rule, arises from the weakening of social ties and the isolation of a person.

For modern sociology and statistical analysis as an integral part of it, the French scientist of the end of the nineteenth century, Emil Durkheim, played a key role."Suicide" in contrast to a number of other works of the scientist was based on a clear statistical analysis of data. In his work, he proposed to introduce the term “anomie” to highlight a factor affecting the growth of suicide during the period of the destruction of the system, its social rules and norms.


Modern classical sociology appeared on the basis of the theories of Emile Durkheim, explaining the patterns and interdependencies of the individual and society. Later, some of his works were finalized by Robert Merton and Erich Fromm.

Today, sociology is considered a completely logical and understandable science, but it seems so only at first glance. In the field of personality psychology and mechanisms of interaction with society, there are many dark spots. Perhaps over time, a new sociology will be revealed, based on a full understanding not only of the forms of interaction, but also of elucidating the mechanism of organizing a person’s thinking in conjunction with society.

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