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.
David Émile Durkheim, Life and Times
Intellectual work is inevitably attached to a human life, and so understanding what Durkheim thought and wrote will require understanding a good deal about where and when he grew up, where he went to school, and what kinds of important experiences he had during his formative years. In this chapter, we examine some crucial and basic elements of Durkheim's biography, including descriptions of his early family life, educational trajectory, and the political and cultural events of importance that took place during his lifetime. Though these sociobiographical elements will resurface frequently throughout the text, it is in this chapter that I will lay out the broad contours of the sociology of knowledge, at both a ...