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Emile Durkheim (1858-1917)

Emile Durkheim is considered by many to be the father of


sociology. He is credited with making sociology a science, and
having made it part of the French academic curriculum as
"Science Sociale". During his lifetime, Emile Durkheim gave
many lectures, and published an impressive number of
sociological studies on subjects such as religion, suicide, and all
aspects of society.

Our website covers the life of this great thinker, and also includes
a complete online version of his "De la division du travail social"
(The Division of Labor in Society), in its original French
language form, in which he introduced the concept of "anomie".
The Division of Labor in Society is one of the four most
important of Durkheim's works which also include, "Les Règles
de la méthode sociologique" (The Rules of Sociological Method),
Le Suicide: étude de sociologie" (Suicide : A Study in Sociology),
and "Les Formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse" (The
Elementary Forms of the Religious Life).

We hope our website will be helpful in providing you with some insight as to who this great
thinker really was, and how his scientific approach would forever change the way we would
study human society.

In addition, we have included a complete Emile Durkheim Bibliography, a list of online


resources, and a selection of quotes from his works. We plan on adding more study materials in
the near future, as they become available.

Biography
[edit] Early years

Émile Durkheim was born in the eastern French province of Lorraine on April 15, 1858. He
came from a long line of devout French Jews; his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had
been rabbis. At an early age, he decided not to follow in his family's rabbinical footsteps.
Durkheim himself would lead a completely secular life. Much of his work, in fact, was dedicated
to demonstrating that religious phenomena stemmed from social rather than divine factors. While
Durkheim chose not to follow in the family tradition, he did not sever ties with his family or with
the Jewish community. Many of his most prominent collaborators and students were Jewish, and
some were blood relations.

A precocious student, Durkheim entered the École Normale Supérieure (ENS) in 1879. The
entering class that year was one of the most brilliant of the nineteenth century and many of his
classmates, such as Jean Jaurès and Henri Bergson would go on to become major figures in
France's intellectual history. At the ENS, Durkheim studied with Numa Denis Fustel de
Coulanges, a classicist with a social scientific outlook, and wrote his Latin dissertation on
Montesquieu.[1] At the same time, he read Auguste Comte and Herbert Spencer. Thus Durkheim
became interested in a scientific approach to society very early on in his career. This meant the
first of many conflicts with the French academic system, which had no social science curriculum
at the time. Durkheim found humanistic studies uninteresting, and he finished second to last in
his graduating class when he aggregated in philosophy in 1882.

[edit] Middle years

There was no way that a man of Durkheim's views could receive a major academic appointment
in Paris, and so after spending a year studying sociology in Germany he traveled to Bordeaux in
1887, which had just started France's first teacher's training center. There he taught both
pedagogy and social science (a novel position in France). From this position Durkheim reformed
the French school system and introduced the study of social science in its curriculum. However,
his controversial beliefs that religion and morality could be explained in terms purely of social
interaction earned him many critics.

The 1890s were a period of remarkable creative output for Durkheim. In 1893 he published The
Division of Labour in Society, his doctoral dissertation and fundamental statement of the nature
of human society and its development. Durkheim's interest in social phenomena was spurred on
by politics. France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War had created a backlash against secular,
republican rule and many considered a vigorously nationalistic approach to rejuvenate France's
fading power. Durkheim, a Jew with a sympathy towards socialism, was thus in the political
minority, a situation which galvanized him politically. The Dreyfus affair of 1894 only
strengthened his activist stance.

In 1895 he published Rules of the Sociological Method, a manifesto stating what sociology was
and how it ought to be done, and founded the first European Department of Sociology at the
University of Bordeaux. In 1898 he founded the journal L'Année Sociologique in order to publish
and publicize the work of what was by then a growing number of students and collaborators (this
is also the name used to refer to the group of students who developed his sociological program).
And finally, in 1897, he published Suicide, a case study which provided an example of what the
sociological monograph might look like. Durkheim was one of the founders in using quantitative
methods in criminology during his suicide case study.

[edit] Later years

In 1902 Durkheim finally achieved his goal of attaining a prominent position in Paris when he
became the chair of education at the Sorbonne. Because French universities are technically
institutions for training secondary school teachers, this position gave Durkheim considerable
influence - his lectures were the only ones that were mandatory for the entire student body.
Despite what some considered, in the aftermath of the Dreyfus affair, to be a political
appointment, Durkheim consolidated his institutional power by 1912 when he was permanently
assigned the chair and renamed it the chair of education and sociology. It was also in this year
that he published his last major work, Elementary Forms of the Religious Life.

World War I was to have a tragic effect on Durkheim's life. Durkheim's leftism was always
patriotic rather than internationalist — he sought a secular, rational form of French life. But the
coming of the war and the inevitable nationalist propaganda that followed made it difficult to
sustain this already nuanced position. While Durkheim actively worked to support his country in
the war, his reluctance to give in to simplistic nationalist fervor (combined with his Jewish
background) made him a natural target of the now-ascendant French right. Even more seriously,
the generation of students that Durkheim had trained were now being drafted to serve in the
army, and many of them perished as France was bled white in the trenches. Finally, Durkheim's
own son died in the war — a mental blow from which Durkheim never recovered. Emotionally
devastated and overworked, Durkheim collapsed of a stroke in Paris in 1917. He recovered over
several months and resumed work on La Morale.

Durkheim died from exhaustion on November 15, 1917, at the age of 59. He lies buried at the
Cimetière du Montparnasse in Paris.

[edit] Theories and ideas


[edit] Social facts
Main article: Social fact

Durkheim was concerned primarily with how societies could maintain their integrity and
coherence in the modern era, when things such as shared religious and ethnic background could
no longer be assumed. In order to study social life in modern societies, Durkheim sought to
create one of the first scientific approaches to social phenomena. Along with Herbert Spencer,
Durkheim was one of the first people to explain the existence and quality of different parts of a
society by reference to what function they served in maintaining the quotidian, and is thus
sometimes seen as a precursor to functionalism. Durkheim also insisted that society was more
than the sum of its parts. Thus unlike his contemporaries Ferdinand Tönnies and Max Weber, he
focused not on what motivates the actions of individuals (methodological individualism), but
rather on the study of social facts, a term which he coined to describe phenomena which have an
existence in and of themselves and are not bound to the actions of individuals. He argued that
social facts had an independent existence greater and more objective than the actions of the
individuals that composed society and could only be explained by other social facts rather than,
say, by society's adaptation to a particular climate or ecological niche.

[edit] Division of labour


See also: Division of labour

In his 1893 work The Division of Labor in Society, Durkheim examined how social order was
maintained in different types of societies. He focused on the division of labor, and examined how
it differed in traditional societies and modern societies. Authors before him such as Herbert
Spencer or Otto von Gierke had argued that societies evolved much like living organisms,
moving from a simple state to a more complex one resembling the workings of complex
machines. Durkheim reversed this formula, adding his theory to the growing pool of theories of
social progress, social evolutionism and social Darwinism. He argued that traditional societies
were 'mechanical' and were held together by the fact that everyone was more or less the same,
and hence had things in common.

In modern societies, he argued, the highly complex division of labor resulted in 'organic'
solidarity. Different specializations in employment and social roles created dependencies that
tied people to one another, since people no longer could count on filling all of their needs by
themselves. In 'mechanical' societies, for example, subsistence farmers live in communities
which are self-sufficient and knit together by a common heritage and common job. In modern
'organic' societies, workers earn money, and must rely on other people who specialize in certain
products, such as groceries, clothing, to meet their needs.

Durkheim also made an association of the kind of solidarity in a given society and the
preponderance of a law system. He found that in societies with mechanical solidarity the law is
generally repressive: the agent of a crime or deviant behavior would suffer a punishment, which
in fact would compensate collective conscience neglected by the crime; the punishment acts
more to preserve the unity of consciences. On the other hand, in societies with organic solidarity
the law is generally restitutive: it aims not to punish, but instead to restitute normal activity of a
complex society. The rapid change in society due to increasing division of labor thus produces a
state of confusion with regard to norms and increasing impersonality in social life, leading
eventually to relative normlessness, i.e. the breakdown of social norms regulating behavior;
Durkheim labels this state anomie. From a state of anomie come all forms of deviant behavior,
most notably suicide.

Durkheim developed the concept of anomie later in Suicide, published in 1897. In it, he explores
the differing suicide rates among Protestants and Catholics, explaining that stronger social
control among Catholics results in lower suicide rates. According to Durkheim, people have a
certain level of attachment to their groups, which he calls social integration. Abnormally high or
low levels of social integration may result in increased suicide rates; low levels have this effect
because low social integration results in disorganized society, alienation and loneliness in the
individual, causing people to turn to suicide as a last resort, while high levels cause people to kill
themselves to avoid becoming burdens on society, or because the social pressure becomes too
great and oppressive. According to Durkheim, Catholic society has normal levels of integration
while Protestant society has low levels. This work has influenced proponents of control theory,
and is often mentioned as a classic sociological study.

Finally, Durkheim is remembered for his work on 'primitive', all non-Western societies, people
in books such as his 1912 volume Elementary Forms of the Religious Life and the essay
Primitive Classification that he wrote with Marcel Mauss. These works examine the role that
religion and mythology have in shaping the worldview and personality of people in extremely, to
use Durkheim's phrase, 'mechanical' societies. In Elementary Forms of the Religious Life
Durkheim develops a theory of religion which is based on Collective Effervescence.
[edit] Education

Durkheim was also interested in education. Partially this was because he was professionally
employed to train teachers, and he used his ability to shape curriculum to further his own goals
of having sociology taught as widely as possible. More broadly, though, Durkheim was
interested in the way that education could be used to provide French citizens the sort of shared,
secular background that would be necessary to prevent anomie in modern societies. It was to this
end that he also proposed the formation of professional groups to serve as a source of solidarity
for adults.

Durkheim argued that education has many functions:

1. To reinforce social solidarity


o History: Learning about individuals who have done good things for the
many makes an individual feel insignificant.
o Pledging allegiance: Makes individuals feel part of a group and
therefore less likely to break rules.
2. To maintain social roles
o School is a society in miniature. It has a similar hierarchy, rules,
expectations to the "outside world". It trains young people to fulfill
roles.
3. To maintain division of labour.
o School sorts students into skill groups, encouraging students to take up
employment in fields best suited to their abilities.

[edit] Crime

Durkheim's views on crime were a departure from conventional notions. He believed that crime
is "bound up with the fundamental conditions of all social life" and serves a social function. He
stated that crime implies, "not only that the way remains open to necessary change, but that in
certain cases it directly proposes these changes... crime [can thus be] a useful prelude to
reforms." In this sense he saw crime as being able to release certain social tensions and so have a
cleansing or purging effect in society. He further stated that "the authority which the moral
conscience enjoys must not be excessive; otherwise, no-one would dare to criticize it, and it
would too easily congeal into an immutable form. To make progress, individual originality must
be able to express itself...[even] the originality of the criminal... shall also be possible"
(Durkheim, 1895).

[edit] Punishment

Durkheim was a strong advocate of morality in society. He believed that having good strong
morals would prevent individuals from 'disintegrating'. Disintegration would happen if the
collective conscience became weak. The collective conscience was a term coined by Durkheim
which meant that individuals shared common beliefs and sentiments. Without this consensus or
agreement on fundamental moral issues, social solidarity would be impossible and individuals
could not be bound together to form an integrated social unit. In order to prevent society from
disintegrating Durkheim believed that punishment was necessary. Punishment is 'a passionate
reaction of graduated intensity to offences against the collective conscience' [2]. Unlike
conservatives who believed that the harshest possible punishment should be enforced to make
men moral and preserve the status quo, Durkheim believed that only the necessary relevant
amount of punishment was needed to threaten men to remain moral. Therefore, he believed that
punishment was necessary in order to promote social cohesion and bind individuals together.

[edit] Law

Beyond the specific study of crime, criminal law and punishment, Durkheim was deeply
interested in the study of law and its social effects in general. Among classical social theorists he
is one of the founders of the field of sociology of law. In his early work he saw types of law
(characterised by their sanctions) as a direct reflection of types of social solidarity. The study of
law was therefore of interest to sociology for what it could reveal about the nature of solidarity.
Later, however, he emphasised the significance of law as a sociological field of study in its own
right. In the later Durkheimian view, law (both civil and criminal) is an expression and guarantee
of society's fundamental values. Durkheim emphasised the way that modern law increasingly
expresses a form of moral individualism - a value system that is, in his view, probably the only
one universally appropriate to modern conditions of social solidarity.[3] Individualism, in this
sense, is the basis of human rights and of the values of individual human dignity and individual
autonomy. It is to be sharply distinguished from selfishness and egoism, which for Durkheim are
not moral stances at all. Many of Durkheim's closest followers, such as Marcel Mauss, Georges
Davy, Paul Fauconnet, Paul Huvelin, Emmanuel Levy and Henri Levy-Bruhl also specialised in
or contributed to the sociological study of law.

[edit] Suicide

Durkheim used official statistics to carry out a study into suicide. He found that people who are
not integrated into the society that they live in are more likely to kill themselves. He stated that
there are four types of suicide.

[edit] Egoistic suicides

This is where people kill themselves for their own individual interest. This usually occurs in
societies where social bonds are weak with a low level of social integration due to emphasis put
onto individual rights, welfare and interests. You could say that this society has the norms and
values to think of themselves, causing them to be more individual rather than coming together as
a society. These people are often encouraged (for example, by their religions) to make their own
decisions and therefore accept the consequences. This may mean that other people of the society
see it as acceptable that a person has killed themselves due to failure or unhappiness. To
conclude this type of suicide is caused by a low amount of social integration and could lead to a
high suicide rate in that society.

[edit] Altruistic suicides

This occurs in societies that sees the individual needs as less important than the societies as a
whole. As individual interest was not important, Durkheim stated that in an altruistic society
there would be little reason for people to commit suicide. He stated one exception; if the
individual is expected to kill themselves on behalf of the society. An example of this rare type of
suicide would be suicide bombers who are willing to take their lives for their religions and Hindu
widows throwing themselves on their husbands funeral pyre.

[edit] Anomic suicides

For this type of suicide, Durkheim pointed out that people are naturally selfish and put their own
needs and interests first. He said that there is a framework of 'acceptable behaviour' within a
society and if this framework is weakened then people will revert to their natural selfishness.
These restraints are usually weakened by social change so Durkheim linked social change with
the rate of suicide.

[edit] Fatalistic suicides

This type of suicide seems to occur in overly oppressive societies, causing people to prefer to die
than to carry on living within this society. This is an extremely rare reason for people to take
their own lives, but a good example would be within a prison; people prefer to die than live in a
prison with constant abuse. [4]

[edit] Religion
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In classical sociology, the study of religion was primarily concerned with two broad issues:

1. How did religion contribute to the maintenance of social order?


2. What was the relationship between religion and capitalist society?

These two issues were typically combined in the argument that industrial capitalism would
undermine traditional religious commitment and thereby threaten the cohesion of society. More
recently the subject has been narrowly defined as the study of religious institutions.

Émile Durkheim placed himself in the positivist tradition, meaning that he thought of his study
of society as dispassionate and scientific. He was deeply interested in the problem of what held
complex modern societies together. Religion, he argued, was an expression of social cohesion.
His underlying interest was to understand the existence of religion in the absence of belief in any
religion's actual tenets. Durkheim saw totemism as the most basic form of religion. It is in this
belief system that the fundamental separation between the sacred and the profane is most clear.
All other religions, he said, are outgrowths of this distinction, adding to it myths, images, and
traditions. The totemic animal, Durkheim believed, was the expression of the sacred and the
original focus of religious activity because it was the emblem for a social group, the clan.
Religion is thus an inevitable, just as society is inevitable when individuals live together as a
group.
Durkheim thought that the model for relationships between people and the supernatural was the
relationship between individuals and the community. He is famous for suggesting that "God is
society, writ large." Durkheim believed that people ordered the physical world, the supernatural
world, and the social world according to similar principles.

Durkheim’s first purpose was to identify the social origin of religion as he felt that religion was a
source of camaraderie and solidarity. It was the individual’s way of becoming recognizable
within an established society. His second purpose was to identify links between certain religions
in different cultures, finding a common denominator. Belief in supernatural realms and
occurrences may not stem through all religions, yet there is a clear division in different aspects of
life, certain behaviours and physical things.

In the past, he argued, religion had been the cement of society--the means by which men had
been led to turn from the everyday concerns in which they were variously enmeshed to a
common devotion to sacred things. His definition of religion, favoured by anthropologists of
religion today, was, "A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred
things, i.e. things set apart & forbidden-- beliefs and practices which unite in one single moral
community called a Church, all those who adhere to them."

Durkheim believed that “society has to be present within the individual.” He saw religion as a
mechanism that shored up or protected a threatened social order. He thought that religion had
been the cement of society in the past, but that the collapse of religion would not lead to a moral
implosion. Durkheim was specifically interested in religion as a communal experience rather
than an individual one. He also says that religious phenomena occur when a separation is made
between the profane (the realm of everyday activities) and the sacred (the realm of the
extraordinary and the transcendent); these are different depending what man chooses them to be.
An example of this is wine at communion, as it is not only wine but represents the blood of
Christ. Durkheim believed that religion is ‘society divinised’, as he argues that religion occurs in
a social context. He also, in lieu of forefathers before who tried to replace the dying religions,
urged people to unite in a civic morality on the basis that we are what we are as a result of
society.

Durkheim condensed religion into four major functions:

1. Disciplinary, forcing or administrating discipline


2. Cohesive, bringing people together, a strong bond
3. Vitalizing, to make more lively or vigorous, vitalise, boost spirit
4. Euphoric, a good feeling, happiness, confidence, well-being
5. Émile Durkheim (1858–1917) is considered one of the most influential figures in the
founding of modern sociology. Born in the eastern part of France, Durkheim descended
from a long line of rabbis and trained to follow in their footsteps. As a young man, he
turned away from organized religion and became an agnostic. While studying in
Germany, he became convinced of the value of using scientific methods, properly
modified, in the study of human behavior. Recognized as a promising scholar, Durkheim
wrote several important works on the methods of sociology, the division of labor, the
scientific study of religion, and how imbalances in the relations between self and society
can lead to death.
6. One of Durkheim's most influential books is a detailed study of suicide. When it was
published in 1897, Le Suicide not only changed the way in which suicide was understood,
it fundamentally transformed the way sociological research was subsequently conducted.
In that work, Durkheim created what became the standard structure for sociological
research. On the first page of the book's introduction, he began defining the central term
under discussion and proceeded to sketch out the tentative outlines of an explanation for
suicide that would be informed by social science, replete with tables of suicide statistics.
7. In critically reviewing the existing suicide literature, which largely viewed acts of self-
destruction as having physiological or psychological origins, Durkheim wondered why
people from similar genetic origins did not have similar rates of suicide. Why did rates
vary within one region over time? If it was related to weakness of character, why was it
unrelated to levels of alcoholism? Utilizing logic and statistics, Durkheim challenged
both popular and academic explanations. In doing so, he indicated that the tentative
sociological approach he had begun to develop in the book's introduction offered greater
explanatory power. The majority of the book lays out what became a classic sociological
explanation for suicide. There are four major types, all related to group cohesion or
solidarity.
8. Egoistic suicide, Durkheim argued, was most common among groups of individuals with
few connections to social groupings of any kind. Thus, loosely bound liberal Protestant
groups had higher suicide rates than Catholics and Jews, for whom regular religious
participation was expected; married people committed suicide at lower rates than singles;
and nations undergoing political crises experienced lower rates because competing
interests and parties became tightly integrated under stress.
9. While egoistic suicide made sense to most readers, Durkheim's second category, that of
altruistic suicide, was more controversial. Durkheim argued

10.
11. Training given to workers on suicide hotlines in the twenty-first century is largely based
on the conclusions and categories originally introduced by Émile Durkheim in 1897.
12. CORBIS
13. that certain types of suicide occurred among tightly knit groups when they came under
severe threat and their members were prepared to die in the group's defense. Because
suicide was widely understood as the act of sick or disturbed individuals, Durkheim's
argument that soldiers who knowingly gave up their lives for their country were
committing suicide appeared to diminish the valor of those actions. Durkheim delineated
three types of altruistic suicide, based largely on a group's expectations that its members
would undertake self-destruction in its defense.
14. The third type of suicide, anomic, was identified with an abrupt shift in an individual's
circumstances, shifts that removed him or her from membership in what had been a well-
integrated group. Durkheim showed that nations where divorce was common experienced
higher suicide rates than nations where the practice was illegal. Similarly, economic crisis
could lead to personal crises for individuals who once thought of themselves as important
providers for their families, but when confronted with persisting unemployment found
themselves evicted from their homes, their credit rejected, and prospects for improvement
dim. If these individuals and their friends were accustomed to thinking of poor people as
responsible for their circumstances, then they found themselves condemned by their own
categories of thought. Faced with humiliation and a lack of connection with groups who
might ease their self-doubts, such individuals might commit anomic suicide.
15. Durkheim's final category of suicide, fatalistic, is relegated to a footnote. This type of
suicide occurred within tightly knit groups whose members sought, but could not attain,
escape, whose "futures are pitilessly blocked and passions violently choked by oppressive
discipline" (Durkheim 1951, p. 276). Prisoners of war or slaves who were bound into
distinct groups dominated by other groups might commit suicide in order to escape group
membership or to demonstrate control over their lives.
16. Suicide concludes by moving from what had been a taxonomy of suicide types toward an
explanation of how social, political, and economic forces produced those types. For
instance, Durkheim explored links between suicide and urbanization, developing how
cities atomize individuals, producing egoistic suicides.
17. Sociologists admire Durkheim's book for a variety of reasons. Not only does the work
present a clear understanding of what a sociological perspective was and how it differed
from the perspectives offered by other emerging academic disciplines, it provides a clear
and well-documented argument advocating the practical value of that discipline's
perspective. Durkheim's reliance on statistics for calculating and comparing suicide rates
was innovative for the time, as was his realization that the effects of some variables had
to be controlled. Although he recognized problems in the comparability of data drawn
from different regions or within one region in different periods, his work contributed to
an emerging body of scholarship in comparative historical sociology.
18. Several sociological studies have been conducted in the century since Suicide's original
publication, and while some have qualified Durkheim's observations, none has seriously
challenged his overall approach or conclusions. While his earlier work contains some
optimism about the potentially liberating effects of industrialization and urbanization, it
also reveals concerns for disruptions caused by change that occurs too rapidly. As time
went on, Durkheim saw these strains become more frequent and troubling. The Dreyfus
affair led him to doubt the hearts and consciences of the French citizenry, and the
outbreak of World War I revealed how destructive the potentially liberating forces of
industrialization can be. The war claimed the life of his only son and intellectual heir in
late 1915, a blow from which Durkheim never recovered. He died in 1917, his writing
having shifted from scientific objectivity to the study of ethics.

"...The state of anomie is impossible whenever interdependent organs are


sufficiently in contact and sufficiently extensive. If they are close to each other, they
are readily aware, in every situation, of the need which they have of one-another,
and consequently they have an active and permanent feeling of mutual
dependence."
(1972, p. 184 [excerpt from The Division of Labor in Society])

Durkheim defined the term anomie as a condition where social and/or moral norms
are confused, unclear, or simply not present. Durkheim felt that this lack of norms--
or preaccepted limits on behavior in a society--led to deviant behavior.

Anomie = Lack of Regulation / Breakdown of Norms

Industrialization in particular, according to Durkheim, tends to disolve restraints on


the passions of humans. Where traditional societies--primarily through religion--
successfully taught people to control their desires and goals, modern industrial
societies separate people and weaken social bonds as a result of increased
complexity and the division of labor. This is especially evident in modern society,
where we are further separated and divided by computer technology, the internet,
increasing beaurocracy, and specialization in the workplace. Perhaps more than
ever before, members of Western society are exposed to the risk of anomie.

Durkheim also discussed anomie's effect on the goals of individuals, as well as their
corresponding happiness. As social restraints are weakened, humans no longer
have limits upon their desires and aspirations. Whereas their goals were previously
limited by social order and morality, the goals now become infinite in scope. But
Durkheim warns that, "one does not advance when one proceeds toward no goal, or
-- which is the same thing -- when the goal is infinity. To pursue a goal which is by
definition unattainable is to condemn oneself to a state of perpetual unhappiness"
(From Suicide). This is a form of anomie.

Durkheim on Anomie:

"If the rules of the conjugal morality lose their authority, and the mutual obligations
of husband and wife become less respected, the emotions and appetites ruled by
this sector of morality will become unrestricted and uncontained, and accentuated
by this very release; powerless to fulfill themselves because they have been freed
from all limitations, these emotions will produce a disillusionment which manifests
itself visibly..."
(1972, p. 173 [excerpt from Moral Education])

"Man is the more vulnerable to self-destruction the more he is detached from any
collectivity, that is to say, the more he lives as an egoist."
(1972, p.113 [exceprt from Moral Education])

EMILE DURKHEIM
ANOMIC SUICIDE
Sociological Theories of Deviance
Department of Sociology and Anthropology

UMD
I. BASIC ASSUMPTION

"NO LIVING BEING CAN BE HAPPY OR EVEN EXIST UNLESS HIS NEEDS ARE
SUFFICIENTLY PROPORTIONED TO HIS MEANS."

 A. IF THIS DOESN'T HAPPEN DISASTER STRIKES

 B. WHAT REGULATES ANIMALS APPETITES?


INSTINCTS

 C. WHAT REGULATES HUMANS?


NOT BIOLOGY
NOT HUMAN NATURE

 D. SOCIAL STRATIFICATION - WANTS AND NEEDS ARE NOT EQUALLY MEET


OR DISTRIBUTED

"IRRESPECTIVE OF ANY EXTERNAL REGULATORY FORCE, OUR CAPACITY FOR


FELLING IS IN ITSELF AN INSATIABLE AND BOTTOMLESS ABYSS."

 E. UNLIMITED DESIRES ARE INSATIABLE & THAT IS A SIGN OF MORBIDITY


(PATHOLOGICAL)
 F. MUST HAVE SOMETHING CLEAR TO STRIVE FOR - GOALS
CANNOT ADVANCE IF THERE ARE NO GOALS OR IF GOALS ARE INFINITY

 G. TO PURSUE UNATTAINABLE GOAL LEADS TO PERPETUAL UNHAPPINESS

 H. HOPE IS IMPORTANT - FOR A TIME

II. PASSIONS MUST BE LIMITED BEFORE ONE WORRIES ABOUT HOW TO ACHIEVE
THEM

 A. REGULATORY FORCE MUST BE MORAL

 B. REGULATORY FORCE MUST BE CONSIDERED JUST

 C. CAN'T REGULATE SELF, NEEDS TO COME FROM "...AN AUTHORITY


WHICH THEY RESPECT, TO WHICH THEY YIELD SPONTANEOUSLY."

 D. SOCIETY OR AGENT, MUST SET LIMITS AND REWARDS FOR `EVERY


CLASS OF HUMAN FUNCTIONARY,'

 E. GOALS AND MEANS SET IN EACH SOCIAL CLASS


SCALE DOES CHANGE OVER TIME

"UNDER THIS PRESSURE, EACH IN HIS SPHERE VAGUELY REALIZES THE


EXTREME LIMIT SET TO HIS AMBITIONS AND ASPIRES TO NOTHING BEYOND.
AT LEAST, IF HE RESPECTS REGULATIONS AND IS DOCILE TO COLLECTIVE
AUTHORITY, THAT IS HAS A WHOLESOME MORAL CONSTITUTION, HE FEELS
THAT IT IS NOT WELL TO ASK MORE."

 F. DRASTIC CHANGE IS ABNORMAL

 G. ORDER IN SYSTEM IS MAINTAINED THROUGH RESPECT NOT FEAR OF


AUTHORITY

III. WHEN SOCIETY IS DISTURBED, CRISIS OR ABRUPT TRANSITION,


REGULATORY INFLUENCE STOPS, AND SUICIDES GO OUT

 ECONOMIC DOWN TURNS

 ABRUPT GROWTH IN POWER AND WEALTH


SCALE IS UPSET
"SO LONG AS THE SOCIAL FORCES THUS FREED HAVE NOT REGAINED
EQUILIBRIUM, THEIR RESPECTIVE VALUES ARE UNKNOWN AND SO ALL
REGULATION IS LACKING FOR A TIME."
THIS IS ANOMIE
 POVERTY TEACHES SELF RESTRAINT; SOMETHING STRONGLY
NEEDED AT A TIME WHEN SOCIAL RESTRAINT IS LACKING

IV. ANOMIE IS A CHRONIC STATE IN TRADE AND INDUSTRY

 LOCAL MARKETS WORK TO RESTRAIN

 GLOBAL MARKETS ENCOURAGE LIMITLESS ASPIRATIONS

 PAST IS JUST ATTEMPTS TO GET AHEAD AND FUTURE IS UNLIMITED


REWARDS

 D. LEAVES THE PERSON WITH NOT PAST OR FUTURE WITH


WHICHTO BE CONTENT