David Émile Durkheim (1858–1917), a French sociologist, that formally established the academic discipline of sociology with his work Rules of the Sociological Method (1895). After setting up the first European department of sociology at the University of Bordeaux, he became France’s first professor of sociology.
Émile Durkheim Pronunciation
- Durkheimian is an adjective, meaning of or pertaining to Émile Durkheim.
- Durkheim’s ideas along with those of Karl Marx (1818–1883) and Max Weber (1864–1920) played a significant role in the development and growth of the social sciences.
- In 1897, Durkheim published Suicide, which examined statistics from over 25,000 suicides. Durkheim found a correlation between suicide and widowhood which he called domestic anomie. He also categorized the suicides into four categories:
- altruistic suicide
- anomic suicide
- egoistic suicide
- fatalistic suicide
Works by Durkheim
- Durkheim, Émile. 1897. Suicide.
- Lukes, Steven, and W. D. Halls, eds. Durkheim: The Rules of Sociological Method. New York: Free Press.
Quotations from Durkheim
- “The totality of beliefs and sentiments common to average members of the same society forms a particular system with a life of its own life; one might call it the collective or common consciousness” (Durkheim  2004:24).
- “Social life derives from a dual source, the similarity of consciousness and the social division of labour. In the first case the individual is socialized because, in the absence of any real individuality, he is united with others with whom he shares a common likeness, becoming part of the same collective type; in the second case, because, while having an appearance and personal activity which distinguish him from others, he is dependent on them to the extent that he is distinguished from them, and consequently upon the society which results from this combination” (Durkheim  2004:32).
- “We can say that an act is criminal when it offends strong and defined states of the collective consciousness . . . In other words, we must not say that an action offends the common consciousness because it is criminal, but rather that it is criminal because it shocks the common consciousness. We do not condemn it because it is a crime, but it is a crime because we condemn it” (Durkheim  2004:24).
Related Quotations About Durkheim
- “Durkheim argued that societies are built on social facts, that rapid social change produces strains in society, and that the loss of shared values and purposes can lead to a condition of anomie” (Kendall 2006:37).
- “Near the end of the nineteenth century, Émile Durkheim’s Suicide (1897) established the field of sociology by offering the first comprehensive theory of suicide. Durkheim’s theory postulated that two basic social forces exist and interact within any society—regulation and integration. Societies that were chaotic and confused produced “anomic” suicides; societies characterized by excessive constraints were likely to develop “fatalistic” suicides; societies in which the individual felt alienated and separate would have “egoistic” suicides; and in societies in which there was overidentification with the values or causes of a person’s group, the suicides would be “altruistic.” Durkheim’s theory stimulated a continuing array of sociological-statistical investigations. It has been modified in innumerable ways, none of which seriously challenged his basic underlying theory” (Farberow 2003:799).
- Giddens, Anthony. 1979. Émile Durkheim. New York: Viking Press.
- Morrison, Ken. 2006. Marx, Durkheim, Weber: Formations of Modern Social Thought. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
- Nisbet, Robert A. 1974. The Sociology of Emile Durkheim. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Steiner, Philippe. 2011. Durkheim and the Birth of Economic Sociology. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Durkheim, Émile.  2004. “The Division of Labour in Society.” Pp. 19–38 in Readings from Emile Durkheim. Rev. ed., edited and translated by K. Thompson. New York: Routledge.
Kendall, Diana. 2006. Sociology in Our Times: The Essentials. 5th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Farberow, Norman L. 2003. “Suicide Basics: History.” Pp. 795–800 in Macmillan Encyclopedia of Death and Dying, edited by R. Kastenbaum. New York: Macmillan Reference USA.
Cite the Definition of Émile Durkheim
ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “Émile Durkheim.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved June 5, 2023 (https://sociologydictionary.org/emile-durkheim/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
Émile Durkheim. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/emile-durkheim/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “Émile Durkheim.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed June 5, 2023. https://sociologydictionary.org/emile-durkheim/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“Émile Durkheim.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 5 Jun. 2023. <https://sociologydictionary.org/emile-durkheim/>.