Émile Durkheim, a Frenchman, was the founder of modern sociology, emphasizing empirical studies of society to develop sociology as a rigorous, modern science. He founded France’s first social science research journal, the Année Sociologique, in 1898. Durkheim’s academic success led to his appointment as Professor of the Science of Education at the Sorbonne in 1906. Durkheim’s position at the Sorbonne was changed by the French Ministry of Education in 1913 to Professor of the Science of Education and Sociology, giving sociology a prestigious presence at the highest levels of the French university system.
Durkheim’s major sociological concern was how societies were held together, specifically how different kinds of social organizations and social relationships created what he called “social solidarity.” Durkheim was particularly concerned with the lack of social solidarity in modern society, which led to what Durkheim called anomie, or the absence of social norms that leaves individuals isolated from one another.
Durkheim’s efforts to analyze and solve this problem were reflected in his sociology and in his involvement in French educational reforms, which he hoped would create a secular, civic morality for the French republic. Shortly after losing his son André in World War I in 1916, Durkheim suffered a stroke while giving a speech opposing the war and died. His major works were The Division of Labor in Society (1893), The Rules of Sociological Method (1895), Suicide: A Study in Sociology (1897), and The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912).
- Bellah, R. N. (Ed.). (1973). Émile Durkheim: On morality and society: Selected writings. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Giddens, A. (Ed.). (1972). Émile Durkheim: Selected writings. London: Cambridge University Press.
- Thompson, K. (1982). Émile Durkheim. London: Tavistock.
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