Emile Durkheim Sociology Is an Extremely Important Term Paper

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Emile Durkheim

Sociology is an extremely important field of study that has dramatically changed the world in which we live. Emile Durkheim has played a major role in shaping sociology and its theories. The purpose of this discussion is to provide an overview of the theorist and his work. The discussion will focus on the work and an evaluation of the validity of the theory.

The Theorist book entitled Emile Durkheim, 1858-1917: A Collection of Essays, with Translations and a Bibliography describes the socialist and his theories. Durkheim was born April 13, 1958 in epinal, France. Epinal is located in the Vosges region of Vosges. (Durkheim, emile) Thought and intellectual capabilities came to him easily as his ancestors were rabbinical scholars; in fact, Emile was supposed to become a Rabbi and continue this tradition. (Durkheim, emile)

There is very little known about his parents; the book reports that he rarely spoke about his parents. One of his most influential teachers was a Catholic woman and while under her tutorage he studied a mystical form of Catholicism. However, the book explains that Durkheim was actually agnostic.

The book asserts that at the time that he was born the country was in conflict. Blend et al. (1960) explains that When Durkheim was born, in the France of the Second Empire, conflicting currents coexisted. In the provinces, the farmers still lived very much as they had for the previous ten centuries. There were more artisans than industrial workmen, and among the latter poverty prevailed, along with a constant fear of unemployment, disease, and accidents against which no insurance was provided." (Blend et al., 1960)

During his early years, Durkheim experienced a great deal of success in school and achieved his baccalaureate. He also received "national laurels in the Concours General." (Blend et al., 1960) Indeed, it was always apparent that Durkheim would achieve a great deal in Academia.

The book goes on to explain that Durkheim moved to Paris when he was eighteen to complete his secondary education. The author asserts that Paris was very different from his Durkheim's native town.

Indeed, Paris was much more grand and boasted of glamour and foreign visitors.

Durkheims instructors had encouraged him to move to Paris to complete the Ecole Normale Superieure. (Blend et al., 1960) The authors assert that Durheim's motivations for attending school was quite different than those of his peers. The book asserts that his vocation was not merely that of a teacher yearning for security and a dignified career. He knew that he had in him the traits of a prophet and a missionary; that he wanted to convert disciples to a doctrine and, through teaching and thinking, enable his students to fulfill their role in the social recovery of his country, saddened by her recent defeat and the mutilation of Alsace-Lorraine...it became evident very early in Durkheim's career as a student that he did not share the youthful ebullience of his companions but believed that effort and even sorrow were more conducive to the spiritual progress of individuals than joy or pleasure. (Blend et al., 1960)

The book also explains that the theorist came from modest means and that he was impatient with the disciplined nature of the Ecole Normale Superieure. He thought that the rigorous study of Latin verse and rhetoric were counterproductive to the intellectual life that he was attempting to revive. He did not become a part of the Ecole Normale Superieure 1878 with his other classmates. However, he did enter the elite group in 1879 and found a great deal of financial security and acceptance among other members of the class. Many of the people in his class expected him to score well on the examination, however he scored next to last in his class. One of the reasons why his ideas were not well received was because they were original. The fact that his originality was frowned upon was of no concern to Durkheim because he believed in his ideas. Durkheim was rejected in many academic circles and suffered in his personal life. The book reports that,

He realized that he would never be a conformist or an official greedy for academic honors. He was never elected to the Institut de France, and he had to wait a long time before a special professorship of sociology was created for him at the Sorbonne. In spite of all this, he always looked back with gratitude upon his years at the Ecole Normale, and later insisted that his son Andre enter the same Ecole, which he did in 1911. Andre's promising career was cut short by his death at the front, in 1916, and the loss of his son shortened Durkheim's life. (Blend et al., 1960)

The theory

Although he was a student of philosophy and the past, he was also interested in social interactions and desired to be around different types of people. (Blend et al., 1960) He begin to teach law and philosophy in 1882. He eventually became a professor at the University of Paris and the University of Bordeaux. (Blend et al., 1960)

All of is theories are based on the belief that morality is of the utmost importance. He believed that morality played a role in every aspect of life and aided in defining society. In his book, entitled, Moral Education A study in the theory and application of the sociology of education, Durkheim explains the necessity for moral education. In this book, Durkheim describes the conflicts that occurred when secular morality was introduced into French schools. He asserts,

Anything that reduces the effectiveness of moral education, whatever disrupts patterns of relationships, threatens public morality at its very roots. The last twenty years in France have seen a great educational revolution, which was latent and half-realized before then. We decided to give our children in our state-supported schools a purely secular moral education. It is essential to understand that this means an education that is not derived from revealed religion, but that rests exclusively on ideas, sentiments, and practices accountable to reason only -- in short, a purely rationalistic education. Such a change could not take place without disturbing traditional ideas, disrupting old habits, entailing sweeping organizational changes, and without posing, in turn, new problems with which we must come to grips." (Durkheim, 1961)

Durkheim asserted that instructors played a large role in shaping young minds and guiding moral behavior. (Durkheim, 1961) He believed that this moral behavior would then serve the greater society and create an environment that was safe and secure. (Durkheim, 1961)

He also believed that any deviations from the moral beliefs could result in dissatisfaction and turmoil. (Durkheim, 1961)

In his book Sociology and Philosophy Durkheim asserts that there are two ways to study moral reality. The first way is to investigate and understand it and the second way is to simply evaluate it. Durkheim also had clear theories about what constitutes moral fact. He argued, "All morality appears to us as a system of rules of conduct. But all techniques are equally ruled by maxims that prescribe the behavior of the agent in particular circumstances." (Durkheim, 1953)

He also believed in the importance of justice in a society. (Durkheim, 1953)

He contended that justice was also essential to a stable society. Durkheim asserted that morality and justice must be upheld in any society. (Durkheim, 1953)

Evaluation of the validity of the theory

It is certainly safe to say that certain moral standards are conducive to the betterment and stability of a society. If a society does not have any moral laws chaos will and does erupt. In addition, justice is essential to the stability of any society.

His view on the role that an educational system plays in ensuring that morality is taught in school is also a solid…[continue]

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