Emile Durkheim

By: Rebecca Dishman

Early Background

Born April 15,1858 in Epinal, France. Mother (Melanie) was a merchants daughter and his father (Morise) was a traditional rabbi. Middle class family. Durkheim started his education of Rabbinical to continue the family tradition but soon decided he didn't want to follow in their footsteps and continued with sociology. Died November 15, 1917 from a heart attack.


Went to schooling in France (Ecole Normale Superieure) and Germany. In France he studied the function of religion because liked the scientific approach of society. After receiving a degree in philosophy in 1882, he accepted a job position teaching between several schools. Later he flew to Germany in 1887, where he studied sociology for two years. Then he received a teaching position at the University of Bordeaux in France, where he developed the first sociology course.

Contribute & Theories

Believed that the was held together with the sharing of beliefs and values. That society serves a specific function (maintenance of it's social system). Focusing on observable social phenomena by the perspective of sociology.

  • Functionalist Perspective - Sometimes called Structural Functionalism, Is focusing on the relationships between various social institutions that make up society. (government, law, education, religion, etc.)
  • Dysfunction - The disrupting of the stability in society. (Crimes)
  • Manifest Function - Intended and recognized in society. (Automobiles traveling one place to another.)
  • Latent Function - Unrecognized or unintended in society. (Automobile displaying wealth to gain social standing.)

Major Ideas

  • The Division of Labor in Society (1893)
  • The Rules of Sociological Method (1895)
  • Suicide: A Study in Sociology (1897)
  • Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (1912)