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Emile Durkheim

by Malcolm Richardson and Andrew Roberts

to read
what he said Click
to read
what he said
French Professor of Sociology.
Born 1858, Died 1917.

The Sociology of Emile Durkheim

Emile Durkheim wrote in the tradition of sociology that treats society as real, as distinct from the way of thinking about society as something just created by individuals.

He wrote in France, where many of the people who write in this tradition come from, including Montesquieu - Rousseau - Saint Simon and - Comte.

Nowadays, Durkheim is most often contrasted with his German contemporary, Max Weber (1864-1920), who was critical of the kind of sociology that treats society as real.

Weber's idea about sociology is that it should be a theory of social action.

Action is something that has meaning to the individual who does it. Sociology should start inside the individual with what his or her actions mean to him or her, and work outwards to understanding any laws or regularities that govern the whole of society.

to read
what he said

This question, set by Malcolm Richardson, may help you think about some of the general sociological issues the lectures relate to:
" Durkheim insists that sociologists must "consider social facts as things" (Durkheim, Rules of Sociological Method, 1895, cited in Hughes, 2003, p. 155). What does Durkheim mean by this, and how does this 'methodological rule' inform his analysis of human action?"

You could consider suicide as an example

system - organism - structure - function

Like other theorists who treat society as more than just the interaction of individuals, Durkheim uses concepts to explain the structure of society.

In his book Division of Labour in Society Durkheim uses the analogy between 'society' and biological organisms, that had been developed by the English sociologist, Herbert Spencer. At the time Durkheim wrote, Spencer was probably the best known sociologist in the world.

According to Spencer, society is like an organism whose different parts perform various specialised functions which maintain them in a stable and healthy state. In the same way, the various elements of society, (for example family, education system, legal system) perform specialised functions which are vital for society's wellbeing.

Spencer also argued that societies evolve from the very simple, having few specialised elements, to the very complex, having many different specialised elements.

to read
what he said
Herbert Spencer argued that society's development is evolutionary. It moves from simple societies based on control to complex societies based on freedom. Spencer had used evolution as his model of physical and social science before Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859. The scientific credibility of Darwin's work gave a tremendous boost to evolutionary theories and by the 1880s most social theorists, including Durkheim, were developing them.

Durkheim has two major themes:

1) that society is real and

2) the reality of society is the subject matter of sociology.

What do you think?

  • Is society real?

  • Has sociology a specific content?
  • In this lecture we will first name Durkheim's main books and point out how these themes run through them all. With each book we suggest a phrase that highlights the issue of the book.

    Clicking on the title of a book will take you to extracts from it

    1893 Division of Labour in Society

    Societies are real - they have solidarity

    This book tried to show that societies are real and that the reality of societies lay in something that Durkheim calls "solidarity".

    Are you sitting on a chair?

    If it is a real - solid - chair - it will hold you up.

    Do you think society has any real - solid - properties?

    1895 Rules of Sociological Method

    This argues that if we want to be sociologists we should consider social facts as things. This is a very mysterious statement, and we will need to think carefully about what it means.

    1897 Suicide

    society is so real that it controls acts as (apparently) individual as suicide.

    1912 The Elementary Forms of Religious Life

    Religious consciousness perceives the reality of society - but in a non-scientific form.

    Durkheim argues that human beings have always had a knowledge of the fundamental reality of their societies. This knowledge, however, was not, previously, scientific, but religious.

    The task of sociology is to understand society in a scientific way.

to read
what extracts from what it said Rules of Sociological Method

    Durkheim argues that sociology is concerned with the study of social facts.

    Social facts are social factors or forces which are external to, and impose various kinds of constraint on individual behaviour (such as morality, language, law, currents of opinion).

    Because he speaks of "facts", some people think Durkheim is an empiricist. This is to misunderstand what he means. See History of Social Ideas Lecture. Durkheim was dismissive of empiricism "classical empiricism", he says "results in irrationalism". Durkheim was a positivist, in the tradition of Comte. He was not an empiricist.

    Durkheim on the division of labour, social cohesion and conflict

    See Social Science History Durkheim and Adam Smith: Division of Labour (1893) and Solidarity

    We can now turn to Durkheim's analysis of society, in his first major work, The Division of Labour in Society (1893). Click
to read
what extracts from what it said

    The nature of social solidarity

    Durkheim called the social ties that unite us "social solidarity": they are the social cohesion (glue) of our society which bind individuals together.

    Many earlier theorists ( Hobbes, Rousseau, Bentham and Spenser, for example) had tried to explain society by imagining individuals uniting one with another. Durkheim looked at it the other way round. He argued that we have always been held together by society, and he theorised about the way in which that unity has developed (evolved).

    Durkheim argued that solidarity is based first on similarity and then on difference:

    "Social life comes from a double source, the likeness of consciences and the division of labour."

    Likeness of mind and division of labour both unite!

    Start with the collective type

    Durkheim argues that our basic socialisation is based on our being like one another:

    "The individual is socialised in the first case, because not having any real individuality, he becomes with those whom he resembles, part of the same collective type".

    Individuality develops to strengthen solidarity

    But another form of solidarity develops on top of that because we have different bodies and do different things. These differences also bind us together:

    in the second case, because, whilst having a physiognomy and personal activity which distinguishes him from others, he depends upon them in the same measure that he is distinguished from them, and consequently upon the same society which results from their union."

    Durkheim calls solidarity resulting from similarity: mechanical solidarity.

    He calls the solidarity resulting from difference: organic solidarity

    We all wear similar clothes to show we are a team

    That is mechanical solidarity

    We all play different parts in acrobatic unity

    That is organic solidarity

    It may help you to remember these terms if you think of a machine making things that are all the same and contrast this with a living organism where the parts are different and work together.


    Mechanical solidarity


    Organic solidarity

    Mechanical solidarity constrains people to think and act alike. Durkheim argues that crime plays an important part in building mechanical solidarity. This is because in responding to crime society reinforces its moral boundaries. (See relevant passages in The Division of Labour in Society). Another important mechanism of mechanical solidarity is religion. The operation of religion in maintaining the collective beliefs of a society was analysed by Durkheim in The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912) (See relevant passages)

    Organic solidarity is derived from the division of labour in society. It requires individuals to think and act differently in a way that binds us together more. In this sense, society creates the individual.

    Solidarity changes

    As we have seen, Durkheim adopts an evolutionary perspective of development. He agrees with Herbert Spencer that as societies evolve they grow more complex. [See Spencer's evolutionary theory and comparison to Durkheim]

    Durkheim argues that changes in the nature of 'social solidary' change the structure of society. That is he has an evolutionary theory of the development of solidarity, which is the motor of change in society.

    For Durkheim, social solidarity is the foundation of society, just as for Marx and the political economists, the foundation of society was economic production. Marx followed Saint Simon in arguing that class conflict (arising from the mode of production) is the motor of change in society.

    Mechanical solidarity is an essential component of all societies, but, Durkheim says, the social solidarity of simple societies is mainly mechanical in nature.

    As societies grow, mechanical solidarity (on its own) becomes less effective the division of labour increases in order to increase the strength of solidarity. The combination of mechanical solidarity with an ever increasing organic solidarity makes the society stronger.

    "it is an historical law that mechanical solidarity which first stands alone, or nearly so, progressively loses ground, and that organic solidarity becomes, little by little, preponderant. But when the way in which men are solidary becomes modified, the structure of societies cannot but change"

    From Clan to Organised society

    According to Durkheim, all known societies have both mechanical and organic solidarity. It is the nature of social reality that all societies (and all human relations) are based on solidarity through similarity (mechanical solidarity) on which develops solidarity through difference (organic solidarity). The part that each form of solidarity plays in society changes as societies develops. Societies move from being predominantly "segmental" to being predominantly "organised".

    Durkheim suggests that the earliest societies were mainly based on mechanical solidarity

    Durkheim's terms for early societies are based on the evolutionary theory of his times. He imagines an early horde, or group of nomadic families, that develops into a clan when the groups of families join together. The organisation of a clan is segmental:

    "We say of these societies that they are segmental in order to indicate their formation by the repetition of like aggregates in them... and we say of this elementary aggregate that it is a clan, because this word... expresses its mixed nature, at once familial and political. It is a family in the sense that all the members who compose it are considered as kin to one another"

    Durkheim calls the horde an "ideal type". This is a phrase we usually associate with Weber. It means that the idea is something that does not exist in reality, but helps us to analyse reality. (See Durkheim's use of the phrase).

    Although Durkheim considers the horde as an ideal type that possibly never existed, clans are real existing societies such as native American Indians or the Australian aborigines.

    Division of labour

    Durkheim agrees with most theorists of his time that clan or family based societies are a type of society that precedes societies in which the functions of the family and the state are separated.

    In Europe, societies with states to regulate their political affairs, territories, families separated from politics and an internal and external trade developed before the time of the "ancient Greeks".

    Durkheim calls such societies "organised". This may be because there is something natural about the family as the basis of society, whereas societies held together politically within state structures are more the product of organisation.

    Organised societies are still based on mechanical solidarity, but it is strongly reinforced by organic solidarity. This greater development of organic solidarity Durkheim derives from the division of labour.

    Adam Smith, in 1776, had applied the term division of labour to the specialised tasks and occupations found in industry and commerce, i.e. the economic division of labour. (See Durkheim). Durkheim widened the meaning of this term to refer to the social division of labour in which all manner of activities become specialised.

to read
what extracts from what Smith said

    "But the division of labour is not peculiar to the economic world; we can observe its growing influence in the most varied fields of society. The political, administrative, and judicial functions are growing more and more specialised. It is the same with the aesthetic and scientific functions. It is long since philosophy reigned as the science unique; it has been broken into a multitude of special disciplines each of which has its object, method and thought."

    The diversity created by the social division of labour creates ties of interdependence and mutual co-operation.


    Finally we look at Durkheim's explanations of conflict in modern society.

    Durkheim, as we have seen, argues that solidarity, in its two inter-related forms (mechanical and organic) is the basis of human society. In simplified terms, co-operation not conflict is where we all start.

    But this does not mean that competition, conflict and deviance are unnatural in society.

    Durkheim argues that it

    " is neither necessary nor even possible for social life to be without conflicts. The role of solidarity is not to suppress competition, but to moderate it."

    Elsewhere he argues that certain forms of conflict are not only natural, but essential to the healthy operation and development of society.

    However, he identifies abnormal form of the division of labour, which, in the examples we will look at, are forms that interfere with society's healthy way of resolving problems. Durkheim speaks of "abnormal forms where the division of labour does not produce solidarity" (see Durkheim). It is here that he finds the explanation for "industrial crises" - "antagonism of labour and capital" - and "class- war"

    Durkheim maintained that the interaction between individuals and groups in society spontaneously generates rules (sometimes called norms) that guide our conduct. Without such rules we are lost about what to do, and so we naturally negotiate what the rules should be. Such negotiations may include competition and conflict over the rules. This is not abnormal. The abnormality is when something prevents the negotiation or re-negotiation of the rules. What could do this?

    For our purposes, we can identify three things that can interfere with the spontaneous negotiation of norms (rules):

    1) insufficient contact for negotiation

    2) the speed of social change

    3) forced hierarchical relations

    The anomic division of labour

    Insufficient contact for negotiation is the important element in what Durkheim calls the anomic division of labour - That is a division of labour outside of social rules or norms.

    An example he gives is when the development of the market in what we now call "globalisation" outstrips the ability of public institutions to regulate it. The harm consequent on the anti-social operation of an unregulated market is exacerbated by the speed of social change. Durkheim also identifies the speed of change in economic crises in a later book as responsible for "anomic suicide".

    In the long-run, such disorders rectify themselves. However, time does not restore the disequilibrium that results from "the still very great inequality of the external conditions of the struggle" which is maintained by the forced division of labour.

    The American sociologist Robert Merton is one of those who has developed (and altered) what Durkheim said.

    Merton argued that many American young people rebel against the rules of American society because of the unequal position they are in when seeking the goals of that society. He calls the strain between goals and the rules for reaching them, anomie.

    Merton's theory has elements of both Durkheim's concept of the anomic and the forced division of labour.

    We need to be clear, however, that for Durkheim, anomie is not rebellion against rules but a state of unhappiness because you have not got rules.

    Click on Robert Merton's
    picture to read what he said

to read
what extracts from what Merton said
    On the Durkheim and Merton Page students discuss the difference between Durkheim and Merton.

    The forced division of labour

    Durkheim argues that

    "labour is divided spontaneously only if society is constituted in such a way that social inequalities exactly express natural inequalities"

    The forced division of labour means that positions in society and rewards are governed not by an individual's innate talents and abilities. but by external inequalities of wealth and social position.

    Durkheim: Suicide and Social Solidarity

    See Social Science History on Suicide

to read
what extracts from what it said

    Data and reality: Two different meanings of "fact"

    Suicide: A Study in Sociology was published in 1897.

    Some people have described this as his "best known study of social facts".

    Sometimes this refers to Durkheim's use the study makes of statistical data. But data is not what Durkheim means by a social fact. A social fact is something outside the individual, from society, which constrains and guides the individual actions.

    A most individual act

    The clue to the meaning of the book is in its title: Suicide: A Study in Sociology. Durkheim is arguing that there are social realities (facts) outside the individual that influence his or her actions even in an issue as individual as suicide. Suicide is, therefore, a suitable study for sociology. (See Durkheim)

    Suicide is one of the most individual of acts.

    If someone asks "why did she kill herself?" most people would think about the individual's state of mind, circumstances, and what she was thinking of.

    The focus, as in a coroner's court, would be on the individual.

to read about the individual

    But Durkheim was not focusing on individual decisions, but on the social phenomena of a rate of suicide. That is the way the number of suicides changes gradually from year to year.

to read
what a rate is

    He argued that

    "... the social suicide-rate can be explained only sociologically. At any given moment the moral constitution of society establishes the contingent of voluntary deaths...

    The victim's acts which at first seem to express only his personal temperament are really the supplement and prolongation of a social condition which they express externally."

    A suicide rate

    Suicide statistics were quite a new phenomena when Durkheim wrote. They had developed in the last half of the nineteenth century.

    Social scientiosts found it remarkable that for such an individual act, committed for all sorts of reasons, the rate at which people committed suicide changed very little from year to year. (See Durkheim's table of Stability of suicide in the principal European countries

    Durkheim argued that this must be due to social forces which operate independently of the states of mind of individual suicides, and maintain the suicide rate fairly constant.

    Durkheim's use of statistics

    It is true that Suicide: A Study in Sociology is the book in which Durkheim makes his greatest use of statistical data. During the nineteenth century statistical data on suicide had become readily available. As Jack Douglas has documented, the "rate" of suicide had become an issue of great interest to social scientists.

    Durkheim used the statistics to demonstrate and test his argument that society is real. He is not an empiricist who attempts to induce his findings from data. If you look at Durkheim's text (follow links below), you will find him arguing with the data. Sometimes it is as if he were saying 'Alright, I agree that the data seems to suggest that society is not the strong binding force that I say it is, but look closer, analyse the figures differently, and you will see that the figures support me'.


    Durkheim discusses the relation between theory and data in a chapter on "how to determine social causes and social types". In this he first attempts to show the impossibility of classifying suicides by an exhaustive examination of the data. This is the way that empiricists might seek to do it. But Durkheim argues that

    "the nature of a phenomenon is much more profoundly got at by knowing its cause than by knowing its characteristics only, even the essential ones."

    Durkheim uses his theoretical analysis of the social causes of suicide to deduce (work out by reason) what the effects of those causes would be and then, by examining data that is available, he tries to show that his social classification of the cause of suicide is not "imaginary", and also seeks to use the data to guide his deductions in the direction they should go.

    (See Durkheim)

    So, before we look at the statistical data Durkheim uses, we have to look at his social theory of suicide.

    Durkheim's social theory of suicide

    Durkheim's definition of suicide

    Durkheim's definition of what he considers suicide is broader than the ides of intentionally killing oneself that one will find in most dictionaries. He says:

    "The term suicide is applied to all cases of death resulting directly or indirectly from a positive or negative act of the victim himself, which he knows will produce this result"

    Durkheim's definition would include the heroic act of a solider who 'sacrificed his life for his country'. This would count as altruistic suicide.

    Durkheim's theory of the four social causes of suicide

    Durkheim argued that four social causes produced four (theoretical) types of suicide: egoistic, altruistic, anomic, fatalistic. He says most (two chapters) about egoistic suicide and least about fatalistic suicide (one footnote!).

    The four causes and types are grouped as two pairs of contrasting opposites:

    Egoistic Suicide

    Durkheim saw the development of individualism as something that strengthens society. Individual and society are thus in healthy support of one another. However, the development of the individual could be at the expense of the person's roots in society, and this would create the strain towards egoistic suicide.

    See egoism

    Minimal integration, with individuals wholly responsible for their actions, without the necessary social support, and social isolation, could make people more prone to suicide.

    This was what Durkheim argued lay behind the difference between suicide rates for different religious groups that social statisticians had identified (See below). This was not because of the religion but because of the extant to which different religious groups make people part of a common community.

    "The beneficent influence of religion is..not due to the special nature of religious conceptions. If religion protects men against the desire for self-destruction, it is ... because it is a society. What constitutes the society is the existence of a certain number of beliefs and practices common to all the faithful, traditional and thus obligatory. The more numerous and strong the collective states of mind are, the stronger the Integration of the religious community, also the greater its preservative value"

    We can see here the ongoing importance of mechanical solidarity in the development of organic solidarity. Durkheim argues that individualism needs to develop within the context of a common community of beliefs in common values.

    Durkheim does not argue that we need the common values of traditional churches. In fact much of his work was directed towards the study of how modern society can provide universal common values for all its members through secular (non-religious institutions) such as schools. You can read about this in his book on Moral Education. (See extracts)

    Different groups - different rates

    Statistics had been used by social theorists to argue that some groups in society had higher suicide rates than others. The first example that Durkheim gives is that Protestants were much more prone to suicide than Catholics:

    "If one casts a glance at the map of European suicide, it is at once clear that in purely Catholic countries like Spain, Portugal and Italy, suicide is very little developed, while it is at its maximum in Protestant countries, in Prussia, Saxony, Denmark."

    [Prussia and Saxony are protestant parts of Germany

    Durkheim quotes statistics suggesting that the average rate of suicide in Protestant countries as over three times the rate in Catholic countries. (See table)

    Altruistic Suicide

    Durkheim argues that society is and always will be based on altruisim. But, (he says, you can have too much of a good thing!

    Altruistic suicide is caused by excessive integration. When society is everything, the individual is nothing. Altruistic suicide is most common in traditional societies based on mechanical solidarity.

    Altruistic suicide is rare in modern societies of the organic type, but it does occur, most notably among the military. Durkheim's key point is that insufficient social integration can lead to self-destruction in the shape of egoistic suicide, while too much integration can have the same effect by way of altruistic suicide.

    Anomic Suicide See Durkheim

    For Durkheim:

  • anomie means the loss of rules

  • We need rules to limit our expectations

  • In an economic crisis the rise in the suicide rate is not due to poverty causing unhappiness - But because rapid change prevents us from developing the new rules to cap our expectations.

    See anomic division of labour

  • Jeremy Bentham's utilitarianism included the common sense claim that human beings pursue pleasure and avoid pain. This proposition, Bentham argued, should be the foundation of social science. Bentham's political economist friends argued that we pursue pleasure in goods and avoid the pain of poverty. So perhaps suicide is the last resort of the poor who seek to avoid their pain? Durkheim thinks this conclusion is wrong. Click
to read
what extracts from what Bentham said

    Amongst the statistics in which regularity was being discovered in the second half of the nineteenth century were those for economic crises. In the late 1870s William Stanley Jevons calculated that there was a regular cycle of crisis and prosperity every 10.4 years.

    Other social statistically minded social theorists correlated these cycles with other phenomena and Durkheim observed that

    "It is a well-known fact that economic crises have an aggravating effect on the suicidal tendency."

    That is to say that the rate of suicide varied in line with the economic cycles. Durkheim asked if this showed that people killed themselves because they were miserable as a result of poverty:

    "But to what do these crises owe their influence? Is it because they increase poverty by causing public wealth to fluctuate? Is life more readily renounced as it becomes more difficult?

    But no, this explanation was "contradicted by facts" because the increase took place when people were getting richer, as well as when they were getting poorer:

    "So far is the increase in poverty from causing the increase in suicide that even fortunate crises, the effect of which is to abruptly to enhance a country's prosperity, affect suicides like economic disasters."

    So, what we find is that the suicide rate rises when there is a rapid change in people getting either richer or poorer, but is lower when matters are more stable, either with prosperity or poverty. It is appears, then, that is the crisis of changing circumstances that triggers suicide attempts. Durkheim says:

    "If therefore industrial or financial crises increase suicide, this is not because they cause poverty, since crises of prosperity have the same result; it is because they are crises, that is disturbances of the collective order. Every disturbance of equilibrium, even though it achieves greater comfort and a heightening of general vitality, is an impulse to voluntary death."

    It is the social dislocation associated with rapid changes that causes the rise in suicide rates, not unhappiness and distress associated with economic depression. This is what relates suicide's at these times to a loss of norms - People's social circumstances are changing to fast for them to adapt the rules they live by to fit the new circumstances.

    Durkheim argues that we need to know the limits of our aspirations. We need to know what it is reasonable to expect given our circumstances. This is a complex issue, but in settled times our social life enables us to do so. But if we a suddenly thrown into poverty or riches (relative to where we were), we no longer know what it is reasonable to hope for and our aspirations become unmanageable. We know longer have the safety of moral rules that we understand and relate to comfortably

    "if the source of the crisis is an abrupt growth of power and wealth... as the conditions of life are changed, the standard according to which needs were regulated can no longer remain the same... The scale is upset; but a new scale cannot be immediately improvised. Time is required... regulation is lacking for a time. The limits are unknown between the possible and the impossible, what is just and what is unjust, legitimate claims and hopes and those which are immoderate. Consequently, there is no restraint upon aspirations."

    Fatalistic Suicide

    Durkheim has very little to say about fatalistic suicide. He sees it as the logical opposite of anomic suicide, in the same way that altruistic suicide is the opposite of egoistic suicide.

    "It is the suicide deriving from excessive regulation, that of persons with futures pitilessly blocked and passions violently checked by oppressive discipline. It is the suicide of very young husbands, of the married woman who is childless."

    Apart from these cases (which he does not explain any further) he says that in modern society examples are difficult to find. However, he says, the suicide of slaves was often of this type.
to read
what extracts from what Frank Pearce says Durkheim speaks of the suicides of slaves being attributable to excessive physical or moral despotism and speaks of the ineluctable and inflexible nature of a rule against which there is no appeal

    Frank Pearce (1987 - 1989 - 2001) uses this to relate fatalistic suicide to the forced division of labour. Slavery is an extreme of the forced division of labour.


    To conclude therefore, Durkheim's study of suicide can be seen as a practical demonstration of his theory that society is real and his argument that sociologists should study social rather than psychological or biological realities.

    He argues that the personal motives for suicide do not provide us with an explanation for the social rates of suicide. To explain these, he focuses on what he calls "social facts": constraints and pressures of collective life, which induce us to behave in certain ways.


    Durkheim has been criticised by critical theorists for what they call "scientism". Another term with a similar meaning is positivism.

    This criticism is partly based on a Weberian belief in the central importance of subjective meanings and intentions in the construction of social theory. The critical theorists argue that Durkheim's approach excludes these.

    Zygmunt Bauman photographed
    by Mariusz Kubik 2005
    Chapter ten on "Thinking Sociologically" in Zygmunt Bauman and Tim May's Thinking Sociologically (2001) is written from the critical theory perspective and includes Durkheim as its example of scientism.

    Further reading

    Douglas, J. 1967 The Social Meanings of Suicide. Princeton University Press. Includes a critical summary of Durkheim's Suicide on pages 73-76

    Durkheim 1893 The Division of Labour in Society. English translation by George Simpson 1933. Extracts at

    Durkheim 1895 Rules of Sociological Method Extracts at

    Durkheim 1897 Suicide Translated into English in 1952. Extracts at

    Durkheim 1912 The Elementary Forms of Religious Life Extracts at

    Durkheim, E. 1925a (English 1961) Moral Education. A study in the Theory and Application of the Sociology of Education with a forward by Paul Fauconett - Extracts at

    Durkheim/Giddens 1972 Emile Durkheim: Selected Writings. Edited, translated, and with an introduction by Anthony Giddens. Cambridge University Press.

    Pearce, F. 1989 The Radical Durkheim

    Richardson, R. 2006 "The Sociology of Durkheim". Notes focused on Durkheim's approach to sociology, and the theory of social change presented in The Division of Labour in Society (1893). Middlesex University.

    Roberts, A. 1997 Social Science History. Six essays for budding theorists Middlesex University. Chapter six "Durkheim and Weber's Contrasting Imaginations - Who is the Sociologist?"

    Taylor, S. 1982 Durkheim and the Study of Suicide

    Webb, D. 2010 Thinking about Suicide: Contemplating and comprehending the urge to die Herefordshire: PCCS Books
    This is a very different book to Durkheim's study of suicide. David Webb says that "Durkheim's most enduring legacy is the ubiquitous epidemiological studies that dominate the literature of suicidology today" (Webb, D. 2006 Exegisis p.38). David Webb's own approach is a study based on his own experiences as someone who has been suicidal.

    Citation suggestion


    Suggested bibliography entry:

    Richardson, M. and Roberts, A. 2011- Emile Durkheim. London: Middlesex University. Available at

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    Index and contents


    Altruistic suicide

    Anomic division of labour

    Anomic suicide



    Books - main
    Books - fuller list

    Division of Labour



    Society real
    Weber disagreed
    Spencer - structure - evolution
    Durkheim's major themes
    main books illustrate
    social facts
    Division of Labour, Social Cohesion and Conflict
    nature of solidarity
    changing solidarity
    from clan to organised society
    division of labour
    Suicide and Social Solidarity
    social reality and social data
    Durkheim's social theory of suicide
    Durkheim's definition
    Durkheim's types
    Further reading

    Egoistic suicide


    Evolutionary theory

    Fatalistic suicide



    Mechanical solidarity




    Organic solidarity






    Saint Simon


    Solidarity - mechanical - organic