David Émile Durkheim (April 15, 1858 – November 15, 1917) was a French sociologist. He formally established the academic discipline and, with Karl Marx and Max Weber, is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science and father of sociology. Much of Durkheim's work was concerned with how societies could maintain their integrity.
The work of Durkheim has had a profound influence on the social sciences; his views on why and how society functions have become an integral part of our intellectual heritage. The main subject that preoccupied Durkheim on this topic throughout his life was that of social solidarity or cohesion. He wanted to understand, more than anything else, how a social unit holds its members together. His used concepts such as organic solidarity and conscience connective to address this question.
In "The Division of Labor in Society" (1893), Durkheim concentrates on increased specialization of individuals as they key to social solidarity. Societies that have a great amount of specialization possess organic solidarity. Here each individual must work with others to survive. On the other hand, societies that have no differentiation of this type are held together by mechanical solidarity. Here individuals have a strong sense of sharing common experiences
Durkheim argued that a society with mechanical solidarity is characterized by repressive law. Because people are very similar int his type of society, and because they tend to believer very strongly in a common morality, any offense against their shared value system is likely to be of significance to most individuals.
Emile Durkheim was born at Epinal in the eastern Frenchprovince of Lorraine on April 15, 1858. Son of a rabbi anddescending from a long line of rabbis, he decided quite earlythat he would follow the family tradition and become a rabbihimself. He studied Hebrew, the Old Testament, and the Talmud,while at the same time following the regular course ofinstruction in secular schools.
Durkheim wished to make a contribution to the moral and political consolidation of the Third Republic which, in those days, was still a fragile and embattled political structure. But such moral guidance, Durkheim was convinced, could be provided only my men with a solid scientific training. Hence he decided that he would dedicate himself to the scientific study of society.
Social facts can be empirically studied, are external to the individual, are coercive of the individual, and are explained by other social facts. Durkheim differentiated between two basic types of social facts-material and nonmaterial. The most important focus for Durkheim was on nonmaterial social facts.
There are several contributions Durkheim has made to the discipline: (1) distinguishing and elaborating the field of sociology from the other social sciences; (2) his emphasis on empirical data to lend support to his theoretical speculations; (3) functionalism; (4) his focus on the division of labor and its consequences for social life; (5) his conception of anomie and its causes and consequences for human societies; (6) the collective conscience or the need for a common core of values and beliefs; and (7) his sociology of religion which is still considered seminal.
Durkheim was devoted to academics. He worked throughout his life to establish sociology as an academic discipline and held the first full professorship in social science in France. As one biographer says, Durkheim “did more to inculcate a sociological perspective across the spectrum of academic disciplines than any other figure, with the possible exception of Marx.”
He wanted sociology to be a science, distinct from other sciences and from other academic disciplines.
He wanted to avoid "reductionism," meaning to reduce answers explaining social phenomena by referring to psychological or individual causes. He gave us a first understanding of the sociological perspective, that although culture and society are carried inside us as individuals, it behaves as a level of reality that transcends, or cuts across, individuals.
Emile Durkheim (1858 – 1917) was a French sociologist and one of the so-called ‘founders' of sociology. In Durkheim’s study “Suicide” , one of the most influential of all sociological texts, he explored links between social integration and suicide rates. Durkheim argued that society has a reality of its own over and beyond the individual who comprises it- structural functionalism.
He coined the term "social fact," referring to those rates, and said we should explain social facts by social facts, not by psychological or biological facts. He said that our degree of being connected to the small groups around us, leads to being more connected to the larger society. Those with low levels of connectivity, which he called "anomie," were more likely to have fewer forces making us conform to social values and expectations, and thus more likely to commit suicide or engage in other disapproved acts.