Émile Durkheim: A Biography
November 2012, Polity
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This book will become the standard work on the life and thought of Émile Durkheim, one of the great founding fathers of sociology. Durkheim remains one of the most widely read thinkers in the social sciences and every student of sociology, anthropology and related subjects must study his now-classic books. He brought about a revolution in the social sciences: the defence of the autonomy of sociology as a science, the systematic elaboration of rules and methods for studying the social, the condemnation of racial theories, the critique of Eurocentrism and the rehabilitation of the humanity of ‘the primitive’. He defended the dignity of the individual, the freedom of the press, democratic institutions and the essential liberal values of tolerance and pluralism. At the same time he was critical of laisser-faire economics and he defended the values of solidarity and community life. In many ways, Durkheim’s rich intellectual heritage has become part of the self-understanding of our time.
Despite his enormous influence, the last major biography of Durkheim appeared more than 30 years ago. Since then, the opening up of archives and the discovery of manuscripts, correspondence with friends and close collaborators, administrative reports and notes taken by students have all provided a wealth of new material about his life and work. Meticulously documented, Marcel Fournier’s new biography sheds fresh light on Durkheim’s personality and character, his relationship with Judaism, his family life, his relations with friends and collaborators, his political and administrative responsibilities and his political views.
This book will be indispensable to students and scholars throughout the social sciences and will appeal to a wide readership interested in knowing more about the life and work of one of the most original and influential thinkers of the twentieth century.