This new volume of the SAGE Social Thinkers series provides a concise introduction to the work, life, and influences of Émile Durkheim, one of the informal “holy trinity” of sociology's founding thinkers, along with Weber and Marx. The author shows that Durkheim's perspective is arguably the most properly sociological of the three. He thought through the nature of society, culture, and the complex relationship of the individual to the collective in a manner more concentrated and thorough than any of his contemporaries during the period when sociology was emerging as a discipline.
Émile Durkheim is universally recognized as one of the founders of the discipline of sociology, but he may well also be the member of the central trio of the founding generation (Max Weber and Karl Marx are its other two members) whose reputation is lowest among contemporary sociologists. He is not infrequently accused of seeing society as static and unchanging, and liking things that way, and of totally rejecting problems of interpretation and meaning. It is claimed by some that he is at his core an apolitical, or perhaps even reactionary, positivist who thinks sociology is or should be a kind of approximation of a laboratory science, and that he envisions the morally healthy society as a quasi-totalitarian entity that forcibly compels the individual ...