Émile Durkheim was born in Épinal, Lorraine, on April 15, 1858 and at the age of 21, he entered the Paris Superior Normal School, where he graduated in Philosophy in 1882, under the tutelage of Fustel de Coulanges.
His theoretical work began when he joined the University of Burdeux as a professor of pedagogy and social science. From there it will challenge the academic society by instituting a new field of knowledge: sociology .
He published hundreds of social studies on subjects such as education, crime, religion, and suicide until he died in Paris on November 15, 1917, where he is buried in the Montparnasse Cemetery.
In addition to being the founder of the ” French School of Sociology, ” Émile Durkheim accumulates a few more attributes, such as constituting Modern Sociology, alongside Max Weber, and being one of those responsible for making sociology an academic discipline by reconciling empirical research with the theory, based on rigorous methods.
By stating that “social facts must be treated as things,” he puts the sociological object as a scientific object, since he considered that only science and a new rationalist paradigm could lead to the right answers to ever faster social changes.
Roughly speaking, his work constitutes a “theory of social cohesion,” to answer how societies could maintain their integrity and coherence in the modern age, while dimensions such as religion and ethnicity seemed to crumble.
According to him, man would be a bestial animal that only became human to the extent that it became sociable. Thus, we can observe the learning procedure, which Durkheim called “Socialization“, as a basic factor in the construction of a “collective consciousness”, established during our socialization.
Nevertheless, one of his main arguments was the determination of “social facts,” which teach us how we should feel and do, because what people feel, think, or do does not depend entirely on their individual wills, as long as it is. conduct instituted by society. Here three properties are crucial: generality, exteriority, and coercivity; These are the laws that drive social behavior, that is, what governs social facts.
His theory had also become known as a Functionalist, since it makes an analogy with the functions of the organism in that the existence and quality of different parts of society, broken down by the roles they play in keeping the social environment balanced.
Still in this theme, its basic concepts will be “social institution” and “anomie“. Thus, social institution would be the set of socially standardized rules and devices to conserve the group’s organization and, therefore, are reactionary in essence (eg family, school, government, police) and act by perpetrating opposition against change by conservation of order.
Anomie, on the other hand, would be a situation in which society would be without clear rules, without values and without limits, and when they may find themselves unable to integrate certain individuals, they are removed from it due to the softening of collective consciousness. This concept was even used to classify the types of suicide: altruistic suicide, selfish suicide and anomic suicide.
Of great importance to modern science is his work “The Rules of the Sociological Method” published in 1895, as it defines a study methodology that will underlie every area of the social sciences. It is here that he lays the groundwork for sociology as a science, defending a new scientific discipline when legitimacy generated distrust among most of his peers.
Main Works of Durkheim
- From the division of social work (1893)
- Rules of the Sociological Method (1895)
- The Suicide (1897)
- The moral education (1902)
- Society and work (1907)
- The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912)
- Lessons in Sociology (1912)