It is an early classic of sociology and of sociological thinking and so, as such, it is one of those books you are supposed to at least know-of, if not to have actually read. And, despite it being rather long, it is surprisingly easy to read. And that is — to what extent does the society or the groups within society that we belong to influence us in our most fundamental behaviours? Which is why his using suicide as the theme to this enquiry is so brilliant.
He is widely regarded as the founder of the French school of sociology. Childhood and education Durkheim was born into a Jewish family of very modest means, and it was taken for granted that he would become a rabbilike his father. The death of his father before Durkheim was 20, however, burdened him with heavy responsibilities.
As Emile durkheim le suicide as his late teens Durkheim became convinced that effort and even sorrow are more conducive to the spiritual progress of the individual than pleasure or joy.
He became a gravely disciplined young man. Durkheim was respected by his peers and teachers, but he was impatient with the excessive stress on elegant rhetoric and surface polish then prevalent in French higher education.
His teachers of philosophy struck him as too fond of generalities and too worshipful of the past. Fretting at the conventionality of Emile durkheim le suicide examinations, Durkheim passed the last competitive examination in but without the brilliance that his friends had predicted for him.
He then accepted a series of provincial assignments as a teacher of philosophy at the state secondary schools of Sens, Saint-Quentin, and Troyes between and In he was appointed lecturer at the University of Bordeaux, where he subsequently became a professor and taught social philosophy until He then moved to the University of Pariswhere he wrote some of his most important works and influenced a generation of scholars.
It has been noted, however, at times with disapproval and amazement by non-French social scientists, that Durkheim traveled little and that, like many French scholars and the notable British anthropologist Sir James Frazerhe never undertook any fieldwork.
The vast information Durkheim studied on the tribes of Australia and New Guinea and on the Eskimos was all collected by other anthropologists, travelers, or missionaries. This was not due to provincialism or lack of attention to the concrete.
Durkheim did not resemble the French philosopher Auguste Comte in making venturesome and dogmatic generalizations while disregarding empirical observation.
He did, however, maintain that concrete observation in remote parts of the world does not always lead to illuminating views on the past or even on the present.
For him, facts had no intellectual meaning unless they were grouped into types and laws. He claimed repeatedly that it is from a construction erected on the inner nature of the real that knowledge of concrete reality is obtained, a knowledge not perceived by observation of the facts from the outside.
He thus constructed concepts such as the sacred and totemism exactly in the same way that Karl Marx developed the concept of class.
The outward events of his life as an intellectual and as a scholar may appear undramatic. Still, much of what he thought and wrote stemmed from the events that he witnessed in his formative years, in the s and s, and in the earnest concern he took in them.
The Second Empirewhich collapsed in the defeat of the French at the hands of Germany, had signified an era of levity and dissipation to the young scholar. Francewith the support of many of its liberal and intellectual elements, had plunged headlong into a war for which it was unprepared; its leaders proved incapable.
The bloody repression that followed the Commune was taken as further evidence of the ruthlessness of capitalism and of the selfishness of the frightened bourgeoisie.
Later, the crisis of over Georges Boulangerthe minister of war who demanded a centralist government to execute a policy of revenge against Germany, was one of several events that testified to the resurgence of nationalismsoon to be accompanied by anti-Semitism. Such major French thinkers of the older generation as Ernest Renan and Hippolyte Taine interrupted their historical and philosophical works after to analyze those evils and to offer remedies.
He perceived around him the prevalence of anomie, a personal sense of rootlessness fostered by the absence of social norms. Material prosperity set free greed and passions that threatened the equilibrium of society. He believed that societies with undifferentiated labour i.
The division of labour rendered workers more alien to one another and yet more dependent upon one another; specialization meant that no individual labourer would build a product on his or her own.
Thus, the apparently purely individual decision to renounce life could be explained through social forces. But the new science of sociology frightened timid souls and conservative philosophers, and he had to endure many attacks.
He took an active part in the campaign to exonerate Dreyfus. Perhaps as a result, Durkheim was not elected to the Institut de France, although his stature as a thinker suggests that he should have been named to that prestigious learned society.
He was, however, appointed to the University of Paris in and was made a full professor there in His efforts included participating in numerous committees to prepare new curriculums and methods; working to enliven the teaching of philosophy, which too long had dwelt on generalities; and attempting to teach teachers how to teach.
French conservatives—who in the years preceding World War I turned against the Sorbonne, which they charged was unduly swayed by the prestige of German scholarship—railed at Durkheim, who, they thought, was influenced by the German urge to systematize, thereby making a fetish of society and a religion of sociology.
The outbreak of World War I came as a cruel blow to him. For many years he had expended too much energy on teaching, on writing, on outlining plans for reform, and on ceaselessly feeding the enthusiasm of his disciplesand eventually his heart had been affected. His gaunt and nervous appearance filled his colleagues with foreboding.
The whole of French sociology, then in full bloom thanks to him, seemed to be his responsibility. Death and legacy The breaking point came when his only son was killed inwhile fighting on the Balkan front.
He died in November Durkheim left behind him a brilliant school of researchers.Finally, Durkheim had shown that the prophylactic effect of religion on suicide owed little to its condemnation of suicide, its idea of God, or its promise of a future life; rather, religion protects man from suicide "because it is a society.
Durkheim's, his work on suicide remains the prototype of systematic, rigorous and unrelenting attack on the subject with the data, tech- niques, and accumulated knowledge available at any given period. Indeed, Le Suicide is among the very first modern examples of con- sistent and organized use of statistical method in social investigation.
Emile Durkheim’s Suicide addresses the phenomenon of suicide and its social causes. the first "real" book on suicide, durkheim was a sociologist who first started looking at suicide in the result is a landmark text in psychology, and the foundation text for suicidology/5. Their combined citations are counted only for the first article.
Emile Durkheim on the division of labor in society. É Durkheim. Macmillan, * Le Suicide. E Durkheim. * Suicide. E Durkheim. Trans.
by JA Spaulding and George Simpson. New York: The Free Press, However, Durkheim established that there is more correlation between an individual's religion and suicide rate than an individual's education level.
Jewish people . "Le Suicide" by founding sociologist Émile Durkheim is a classic text in sociology that is widely taught to psychology students. Published in , the book was the first to present a sociological study of suicide, and its conclusion that suicide can have origins in social causes rather than just being due to individual temperament, was groundbreaking at the time.