Biography of Emile Durkheim | Sociologist, pedagogue and French anthropologist, one of the pioneers in the development of modern sociology.

(Epinal, 1858 - Paris, 1917) Sociologist, pedagogue and French anthropologist, one of the pioneers in the development of modern sociology. Son of a Rabbi, said soon as a student, which would allow it to access the Normal high school of Paris, which graduated in philosophy in 1882 in 1879. Completed his studies at the Normal, he began his teaching career in various French cities. During the year 1885-1886 moved to Germany, where he met the methods of experimental psychology of Wilhelm Wundt.
From Germany he sent to various French magazines some articles about philosophy and positive Sciences; Thanks to these collaborations, he became a professor in charge of the subject of social science and pedagogy from the University of Bordeaux (1887). In 1896 it was awarded the Chair of social philosophy and founded the journal L' année sociologique. In 1902 he was appointed Professor of educational science of the University of Paris, where would exert teaching until his death.

Emile Durkheim
In the field of research, Durkheim became an initial interest by teaching a broader view that led him to the field of sociology, by then in his early after the first positivist Augusto Comteformulation. Émile Durkheim's first important work was his doctoral thesis, on the division of social work (1893). After examining the excessive specialization and dehumanization of work, trend in upward progression since the industrial revolution, Durkheim stressed in this study the serious risks posed by such developments for the welfare and the common interest of the society.
Two years later he published his seminal work, the rules of sociological method (1895), which constitutes a true Breviary of sociology; It said Durkheim new science field and proposed the methodology that was to follow. The object of study of Sociology is not a sum of individuals (as in the same configuration of the individual involved social forces that operate on it), but the phenomenon or made social, one of whose main features is precisely the coercion exerted on the individual.
The social fact is, in addition, exterior to the indiviudo (exist before his birth) and a collective product. "Collective representations" and the structures of society impose on the individual rules of thought, the rules of conduct, the canon of a normal existence, and also their highest aspirations, unless all exclude certain margin of autonomy of the individual in the field of the community.
While object of sociology, the social fact must not be judged (e.g., is outside his field whether religious rites have or unfounded), but analyzed and studied observation and empirical evidence and data, applying scientific methods and according to their function and their immediate causes. The result must be the explanation of the conscience collective (a term coined by Durkheim), formed by a set of shared values that is completely different from the sum of the individual conscience. Conservation, change or loss of such values (moral, religious, etc.) determines the stability or evolution of a society.
By applying its own methodology, Émile Durkheim departed from official statistical data to prepare its next study: suicide (1897). The thesis of the work is summed up in the following sentence: "suicide varies in inverse proportion to the degree of integration of the individual in the religious community, family and politics". Following the sociological conception exposed in his earlier work, Durkheim part of the budget that the individual is guided by a collective moral reality. The observation that every town has some percentage of suicides, steadier than mortality and governed by fixed rules, shows that countries and their institutions are a driving force that is independent of the individual.
According to Durkheim, the root causes of suicide are social in nature (lack of integration) and remain unknown even to the same suicidal. The author differentiates between causes and motives, and considers the latter as not decisive pretexts. Precisely because of these considerations, reproached to Durkheim the having formulated a thesis hasty, based on data not current and incomplete, without calculating the incidence of mental illness and especially of cyclothymia, this very often in suicide bombers. His successors strove to complete theories of the master in the areas exposed by in an incomplete manner because of lack of statistics.
On the religious phenomenon was one of his most significant works, elementary religious life forms (1912), based on different anthropological observations on American and Australian aborigines. Durkheim theory based on that religion must be considered as a social phenomenon and, at the same time, as the product of a form of groupthink. Durkheim interprets religion as a symbol of the society itself: the fear that inspires us the sacred expresses our dependence on society symbolically. Thus, the same concept of God only is, indeed, a form of worship to the society. Religion, society and culture, exercises control over the conscience of the individual, and is therefore an invaluable instrument of social cohesion. This interpretation, focusing on the social function of religion, would be collected by the anthropological functionalism.
To Durkheim, the religious phenomenon always entails a clear-cut division of reality into two areas: the sacred and the profane. The set of all things real or ideal belongs to one of these two areas, which, in turn, are radically excluded. Thus, it is not enough the hierarchical criterion according to which the sacred things would be those deemed to be superior in dignity and power to the profane: not by the fact that a thing is subordinate to another, this will be sacred in relation to the first. What is characteristic of the sacred to the profane is the absolute heterogeneity, their lack of common qualities. For this reason, the powers acting in one of the areas are not the same found on the other, increased or attenuated, but they are of a different kind.
Despite the rigid separation between the sacred and the profane, the same Durkheim recognized that this distance may not be so great that it would prevent any communication between the two spheres, put that sacredness would not serve anything if not you could enter in relation to the profane. Communication between both universes is possible and necessary, but it requires a series of precautions, so it is through ritual relationship. This condition shows the essential levels of duality; Therefore the passage of the secular State (profane) the (sacred) priestly state occurs in all religions through a rite of passage.
Along with the already-reviewed works include philosophy and sociology (1899) and a series of studies, among which the most important are crime and social health (1895), the prohibition of incest and its origins (1896), on the definition of religious phenomena (1879-1898), collective representations and individual representations (1898), determination of the moral fact (1907) and judgments of reality and value judgments (1911).
He published numerous articles, uniquely in Revue de métaphysique et de morale, Revue philosophique and L' année sociologique: notable among these on totemism (1902), some forms of primitive classification (1903) and the marriage of Australian societies organization (1903). Suicide considered in the sociological aspect (1897) and sociology and its scientific domain (1900) appeared in the Italian Rivista di sociology .
Extracted from the website: Biografías y Vidas
Biographies of historical figures and personalities

Recommended Contents