Durkheim and his contribution to modern Sociology

Essay by walkbysun April 2006

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Emile Durkheim (1858-1917)

In the nineteenth century, as an attempt to understand the massive social and economic changes that had been weeping across Western Europe in the seventeenth, eighteen, and nineteenth centuries, sociology was developed as an autonomous subject, separate from philosophy and economics. With theories, sociology continues profoundly influence the way to explain why social phenomena have the characteristics they have, provides ideas for an analysis of complex social processes and aids in the construction of models of how social structures and social systems operate. According to Professor Percy Cohen Durkheim was committed to these aims and along with Comte, Marx, and Weber is considered as the founding father of sociology. With his ideas of moral force and social facts, Durkheim's work is an important antidote to some of evolutionary theorist such as Spencer as well as had a certain influence on development of Structural-functionalism by Parsons.

Human nature is driven by egoism, such as desire, passion, greed, selfishness, which is harmful to oneself and to the society.

Durkheim said that unsaturated desire can never be fulfilled; therefore, a strong moral system is needed to suppress and control egoism and to provide guideline for their behavior. When such a system was achieved, people can live together, and society acts as a moral entity or a moral force that constrains individuals. He also believed that morality was the one supplied not by God or the supernature but society itself, and called this morality collective conscience or what so-called culture, norms, values. These are the source of social solidarity, and lead to the balance, equilibrium, consensus in society. In his famous work, the Elementary Form of Religious Life, he used the religious beliefs and practices of the aboriginal peoples of Australia to illustrate the influence of moral force with the belief...