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Emile Durkheim

Updated on December 1, 2016

Emile Durkheim,(1858-1917) French philosopher and sociologist, who with Karl Marx and Max Weber was one of the three most profoundly influential analysts of industrial society. Durkheim concentrated on clearly observable human behavior and applied scientific methods - especially the use of statistics - to social studies. Durkheim studied the relationship between the individual and society, examining such topics as the division of labor, suicide and primitive religion. In his explanations of these phenomena, Durkheim stressed the nature of social solidarity and the effects of social turmoil. He described solidarity as being of two types: mechanical solidarity, deriving from the moral force of traditional societies with little division of labor; and organic solidarity, deriving from the interdependence of a complex division of labor. Where solidarity was weak and few adhered to common norms or behavioral patterns, he suggested that a situation of anomie or norm-lessness prevailed. Durkheim's social theory stressed integration, social cohesion and the importance of ritual in expressing and maintaining the social order.


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