The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, by Émile Durkheim

The published English translation of Durkheim’s book is The elementary Forms of the Religious Life, published in 1912, is a classic in the sociology of religion that laid the foundation for a social scientific study of religion and the sociology of knowledge. Through its coherent theoretical framework and rigid analysis of ethnographic material, it established a school of thought and type of research that is still unsurpassed in the sociology of religion, even 100 years after its publication. The following sections describe Durkheim’s development as a scholar, the tenets of The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, and the ways in which it establishes the basis for a sociology of religion. The entry concludes with a discussion of the international critical reception of Durkheim’s work and ...

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