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Durkheim: Individual & Society

SOCY2040 Classical Sociological Theory Lecture 2A

Claire Donovan

on 11 June 2015

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Transcript of Durkheim: Individual & Society

Individual & Society Industrial Revolution Coercion
Society sui generis Durkheim Social & political context Major works What does intellectual history say
about understanding Durkheim? What is the importance of social & political context? Key theories & concepts Approach to sociology French Revolution C19th France His life Key intellectual debates Emile Durkheim (1858 - 1917)

"He is widely acknowledged as a 'founding father' of modern sociology who helped to define the subject matter and estabish the autonomy of sociology as a discipline." Intellectual influences Individual in society Mechanical vs organic solidarity Anomie structure vs agency Collective consciousness Suicide Social facts Dreyfus Affair Franco-Prussian war Key dates:

1858 – David Emile Durkheim was born 15 April, Ēpinal, Alsace-Lorraine

1870 – Alsace-Lorraine was annexed by Prussia

1879 – Ēcole Normale Supérieure, Paris for PhD

1885 – university fellowship, Berlin

1887 – lectured in education (and social science?), University of Bordeaux

1902 – Sorbonne, Paris: first European Chair of Sociology

1916 – Durkheim’s son André killed in action

1917 – dies aged 59 Durkheim’s legacy:

‘sociology’s most successful founder, not only because he established the field in the elite university system of France, but also because he gave it enough method & intellectual content so that it could be built upon elsewhere.’ (Collins, p. 45) Quetelet de Coulanges Comte J. S. Mill Bentham Rousseau Hobbes Professionalize sociology as an academic discipline Sociology as science sociology as a science of 'social facts'
establish scientific laws
equivalent of scientific method of experiment ‘Durkheim was enough of an Enlightenment thinker to believe that the “science” of sociology…could be used as a diagnostic tool to improve society and alleviate conditions of anomie [i.e. normlessless].’ (McIntosh, p. 5) Social facts A science of morals Collective function of any social activity Collective consciousness Anomie Structure over agency Consensus over conflict Anomie: ‘a condition in which the old moral order has fallen into decay and a new one has yet to emerge in its place’ (Parkin). 1893, ‘The Division of Labour in Society’

1895, ‘The Rules of Sociological Method’

1897, ‘Suicide’

1912, ‘The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life’
‘It says something for the complexity of Durkheim’s thought that it could so confidently be assigned to opposite poles of the political spectrum. He has at one time or another been dubbed a socialist, a syndicalist, a radical, a liberal, a conservative, and even proto-Fascist. No one has yet detected a streak of anarchism in his make-up, but the possibility should not be ruled out.’ (Parkin, p. 3) Was Durkheim a functionalist? Was Durkheim a conservative? Are there two Durkheim's? Can Durkheim only be understood by Jews? The Third Republic Obligations of society to its members Autonomy of individual from society Anti-Semitism Anti-intellectualism ‘The Dreyfus Affair was not only the affair of a single citizen but also of the [French] Republic; not only the affair of one individual but also of humanity.’ (Fournier) Science and social progress Anti-individualism Prestige of scientific method
Reform via institutions
Positvism popular Comte (Course in Positive Philosophy, 1830):
end metaphysical speculation
empirical observation
the 'law of three stages'
a hierarchy of science Individualism’s roots in upheaval of French Revolution:
•By 1870 ‘many had began to concern themselves with the excesses of individualism’ therefore there were intellectual debates about the relationship between the individual and society, and about individual rights vs. collective obligation.

•1894 Dreyfus Affair polarized the right-wing and the liberals

•1895-1900: as a legacy of the French revolution, the individual ‘had become the absolute centre of society’ therefore constitutional and legal reform had focused on individual political rights. The problem was that this individualism ‘jeopardised the collective authority of the state.’ Utilitarian social theory (J. S. Mill and Bentham, second half of C19th):
•‘individuals act on their free will and are completely autonomous and self-determined.’

•‘individuals have common motives impelling them to realize their self-interest by economic gain.’

Therefore individual social action based on economic interchanges with society, but beyond this the individual owed nothing to society in its own right.’ Individualism in Hobbes and Rousseau:
•Look for the origins of society in individual human nature, e.g. individuals join in a social contract, and so join society to secure peace and safety from the anarchy of the state of nature. Society introduces restraint.

•The individual preceded society, and many individuals (like atoms) comprise society. We cannot separate individuals from society Individuals cannot be studied separately from society Individuals are part of the social whole Social rules act as restraints on individual action some structures in society control the actions of individuals...

...and can be studied empirically how social facts control individuals...

...this can be empirically observed An individual act or the product of social forces acting on the individual? How is society possible? ‘Have you ever wondered how such a complex society as ours actually manages to “work”, or why it “breaks down”?’ (McIntosh) ‘social life would not be possible unless there were interests that were superior to the interests of individuals’

(Durkheim, ‘Individualism and the Intellectuals’, p. 20) The collective structure of society is separate from individuals & can be studied as a reality in its own right values, customs & beliefs which holds the individual in place A scientifically observable social world Mechanical solidarity: primitive, close-knit Organic solidarity: more complex, less cohesion Imbalances of regulation & integration a state of normlessness a social pathology References
Randall Collins (1994) ‘And Finally Sociology’ in ‘Introduction’ to Four Sociological Traditions, New York: Oxford University Press (pp. 38-47).

Emile Durkheim (1969 [1898]) ‘Individualism and the Intellectuals’ (trans. S. and J. Lukes) Political Studies xvii: 14-30.

Marcel Fournier (2005) in Jeffrey C. Alexander and Philip Smith (eds.) The Cambridge Companion to Durkheim, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

John A. Hughes, Peter J. Martin and W. W. Sharrock (1996) Understanding Classical Sociology: Marx, Weber, Durkheim, London; Thousand Oaks; New Delhi: Sage Publications Ltd.

Ian Mcintosh (1997) ‘Marx, Weber and Durkheim: Why bother?’ in Classical Sociological Theory: A Reader, New York: New York University Press.

Ian McIntosh (1997) ‘Emile Durkheim: Brief Biography’ in Classical Sociological Theory: A Reader, New York: New York University Press.

Ken Morrison (2006) Marx, Weber, Durkheim: Formations of Modern Social Thought (Second Edition): Sage Publications.

Richard Osborne and Borin Van Loon (1998) ‘The Contribution of Durkheim’ in Introducing Sociology, Cambridge: Icon Books Ltd.

Frank Parkin (1992) Durkheim, Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.

W. S. F. Pickering (1994) ‘The Enigma of Durkheim’s Jewishness’ in W. S. F. Pickering and H. Martins (eds.) Debating Durkheim, London; New York: Routledge.

Bryan S. Turner (1999) ‘Emile Durkheim on Civil Society’ in Classical Sociology, London; Thousand Oaks CA; New Dehli: Sage Publications Ltd.
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