The Sociological Theory Of Emile Durkheim

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Émile Durkheim is widely considered to be one of the founders of the science of sociology. Towards the end of his book, The Rules of Sociological Method, he writes that “a science cannot be considered definitively constituted until it has succeeded in establishing its own independent status” (150), a statement that strongly suggests that with this work Durkheim is trying to “definitively constitute[]” (150) sociology as a science. Contrary to this sentiment, Durkheim appears to rely on already established sciences and scientific methods. Though he is definitely founding something new, Durkheim fundamentally relies on the methods of traditional science to give sociology credibility within the scientific community and beyond. One of the most…show more content…
In this instance he specifies that facts can only be seen “in relation to a given species… [and] cannot be defined in abstracto or absolutely” (147). This may seem, at first, to be a negation of scientific objectivity, but it is instead a correction of what Durkheim believes to be an “often misunderstood” (147) idea. The objectivity Durkheim is dealing with, though not entirely devoid of external influences, is still scientific. He reflects that this form of objectivity is not unlike the objectivity of biology in which “it has never occurred to anybody to think that what is normal in a mollusc should be also for a vertebrate” (147). This must then not be a contradiction within Durkheim’s thinking, but, instead, an expansion and clarification of the typical definition of…show more content…
In showing the similarities between the two sciences Durkheim necessarily implies that sociology is as legitimate of a science as biology. In Chapter III, “Rules for the Distinction of the Normal from the Pathological” (144) Durkheim focusses on establishing the differences between what is normal and what is pathological in sociology by discussing how health and sickness are determined within the biological sphere. “Every sociological phenomenon, just as every biological phenomenon, although staying essentially unchanged, can assume a different form for each particular case” (147), therefor making every sociological phenomenon as real and as scientific as every biological phenomenon. This comparison also serves to separate sociology from philosophy, a distinction which Durkheim considers to be the first “characteristic[] of the sociological method”
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