Emile Durkheim

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Emile Durkheim was the first French academic sociologist. He developed the methodology of combining empirical research with sociological theory. This is a brief introduction on his life, his work and what he brought to the field of sociology. His contributions have affected the social sciences to include; law, economics, linguistics, ethnology, art history, and history (Durkheim, 2006). Philosophy was the ruling social science in his time but through his work the field of sociology was created.

Durkheim was born on April 15, 1858 to Moise and Melanie Durkheim (Jones, 1986). Durkheim's father was a rabbi and his mother was the daughter of a merchant (Jones, 1986). He was born in an era of significant social and political change. He was raised in Epinal, the capital town of Vosges in eastern France . His father, grandfather, and great grandfather were all rabbis.

His family lived very modestly. He studied Hebrew, the Old Testament and the Talmud in his early years as he had decided early on that he too would become a rabbi (Coser, 2003).

He continued with his education at the College d'Epinal and graduated with a bachelor's degree in Letters and Sciences in 1875. He graduated two years earlier than most students (Jones, 1986). Through his education he learned to speak German, English and Italian, this would be helpful to him later in his career. Durkheim decided that he wanted to teach instead of pursue being a rabbi.

After leaving Epinal he moved to Paris where he spent most of the rest his years. Durkheim met and married Louise Dreyfus in Paris when he was 29. They had one son, Andre, and a daughter, Marie. Durkheim's wife spent her life devoted to his work and caring for their children and household.

The events that shaped his life began early...