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Lecture 6: Society and the State: Emile Durkheim and the Politics of the Social Foundations of Modern Social and Political Thought.

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Presentation on theme: "Lecture 6: Society and the State: Emile Durkheim and the Politics of the Social Foundations of Modern Social and Political Thought."— Presentation transcript:


2 Lecture 6: Society and the State: Emile Durkheim and the Politics of the Social Foundations of Modern Social and Political Thought

3 Society and the State The Idealist Turn: Individuality and Sociability Understanding the Social Representing the Social: Society and the State The Connection Between the Social and the Political

4 The Age of Sociology Marx, Base and Superstructure: Politics as the Playground of the Socio-Economic Weber and the House of Power: Responding to Marx, Rejecting the Priority of the Economic Durkehim, Comte, and the Politics of the Social

5 Social Realism: the Existence of the Social ‘ … in coming together under a defined framework and with durable links men form a new being which has its own nature and laws. This is the social being. The phenomena which occur here certainly have their ultimate roots in the mind of the individual. Nonetheless, collective life is not simply an enlarged image of individual life. It presents sui generis features which the inductions of psychology alone would not enable one to predict.’ ‘Cours de Science Sociale’, 25.

6 Studying Social Facts ‘Doubtless the idea that we form of collective practices, of what they are, or what they should be, is a factor in their development. But this idea itself is a fact which, in order to be properly established, needs to be studied from the outside. For it is important to know not the way in which a particular thinker individually represents a particular institution, but the conception that the group has of it … But it cannot be known through mere inner observation, since it is not wholly and entirely within any one of us; one must therefore find some external signs which make it apparent. Furthermore, it did not arise from nothing: it is itself the result of external causes which must be known.’ Rules of Sociological Method, 38.

7 Suicide: The Ultimate Case Study ‘… each people is seen to have its own suicide rate, more constant than that of general mortality, that its growth is in accordance with a coefficient of acceleration characteristic of each society; when it appears that the variations through which it passes at different times of the day, month, year, merely reflect the rhythm of social life; and that marriage, divorce, the family, the religious society, the army, etc., affect it in accordance with definite laws.’ Suicide, 38-9.

8 Explaining Suicide: Egoism ‘ … the bond attaching man to life slackens because the bond which attaches him to society is itself slack … the individual is isolated because the bonds uniting him to other beings are slackened or broken, because society itself is not sufficiently integrated at the point at which he has contact with it.’ Suicide, 230 and 317.

9 Explaining Suicide: Altruism the individual ‘is too strongly integrated … the self is not autonomous, where it is fused into something other than itself, where the goal of its behaviour is situated outside it, that is in one of the groups of which it forms part.’ Suicide, 238.

10 Explaining Suicide: Anomie ‘Egoistic suicide occurs because men no longer see any justification for life; altruistic suicide because that justification seems to them beyond life itself; [anomic] suicide … because their activity lacks regulation and they therefore suffer.’ Suicide, 288.

11 Anomie and the Industrial World ‘From top to bottom of the scale, greed is aroused unable to find ultimate foothold. Nothing could calm it, since its goal is infinitely beyond all it can attain … Men thirst for novelties, unknown pleasures, nameless sensations, which lose all savour once experienced. Hence, men have no strength to withstand the last reverse.’ Suicide, 284.

12 The Sources of Solidarity Mechanical Solidarity: Connection in the Pre-Modern World The Threat to Solidarity: the Division of Labour Organic Solidarity: Connection in the Modern World

13 Organic Solidarity and the Possibilities of Individualism ‘... On the one hand, each depends more intimately on society as labour is more divided, while, on the other hand, the activity of each is more personal as it becomes more specialized. Of course, however limited it may be, it is never entirely original; even in our occupational activity we conform to practices and ways of acting that we share with our whole corporation. But even here, the yoke we submit to is infinitely less heavy than when the entire society weighs on us, and it leaves much more room for the free play of our initiative.’ Division of Labour in Society, 101.

14 The Politics of Society ‘ There is no longer need to pursue desperately an end which recedes as we move forward; we need only to work steadily and persistently to maintain the normal state, to re-establish it if it is disturbed, and to rediscover the conditions of normality if they happen to change. The duty of the statesman is no longer to propel societies violently towards an ideal which appears attractive to him. His role is rather that of the doctor: he forestalls the outbreak of sickness by maintaining good hygiene, or when it does break out, seeks to cure it.’ Rules of Sociological Method, 104..

15 The Politics of Society: Suggestions Social Patriotism and the Rejection of Revolt Industrial Organization and Occupational Groupings The Politics of Equality: Righting the Misallocation of Labour The Politics of Equality: Reciprocal Reward

16 From Sociology to Politics ‘We would not judge our researches to be worth an hour’s trouble if they were bound to have no more than a speculative interest. If we take care to separate the theoretical from practical problems, this is not in order to neglect the latter; it is, on the contrary, to enable us the better to resolve them.’ The Division of Labour in Society, 33.

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