Anne Warfield Rawls

Durkheim's epistemology: Continuities between The Elementary Forms and The Division

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Durkheim, social facts, social theory, sociology of knowledge, constitutive rules, modernity

The later work of Emile Durkheim is usually treated as though it were very different from his early work. The alleged difference is often referred to as representing two entirely different Durkheim's: The Two Durkheim Hypothesis. This paper argues that there are strong elements of continuity between Durkheim's last work in The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (1912) and his earliest work in The Division of Social Labor (1893). Misinterpretations of Durkheim's work have often resulted from treating the early work as a kind of structural functionalist argument: which it was not - and the later work as a sociology of knowledge which it was only in part. The Elementary Forms completed an argument that was initiated in The Division nineteen years earlier that constitutive practices would become the means for creating coherence in modern differentiated societies. Durkheim's later work continued to explore this idea and to compare and contrast the means for creating and maintaining coherences in modern and traditional societies.

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