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Western University
Sociology 2240E
Brendan Murphy

Durkheim Durkheim - He’s from a french jewish family o Declined from being a rabbi  he rejected it  wanted to be a brain - Started teaching at Bordeaux in 1887 o Established the first of France’s sociology departments Durkheim’s Ontology and Epistemology - Ontology (what is the – social - world made of?) o Society is separate from individuals o Society is sui generis (they’re all very different even if they look the same) o Humans are dualistic: they have both individual and social desires  We have our own goals  But we have our social goals • And these are crafted by society  So why do different individuals have different desires - Epistemology (how do we acquire knowledge) o Scientific rationalism  Doing studies etc. o Not by analysing individuals, but by analysing structures Durkheim’s Sociology - Similar to Marx, with an emphasis on social structures o The structures matter more than individuals  These structures give citizens specific options  This is why everyone acts similarly  Ex. if people are going to leave a room you look at the room, you don’t ask them why they left that way - When individuals interact together over time they create institutions o Institutions operate to shape social interaction o These institutions are an echo of the standards that have already existed  That’s pretty depressing o Ex. people follow grass that’s worn down because people have walked that way even if it’s not the most direct route - Institutions are a direct result of society’s repeated social interactions Social Facts: the thing behind why people act why they do  so it’s not the fact that there are specific norms, but it’s more the institutions that influence them Society - Society is generally understood and perceived as this giant complex beast o Think of the actor-network - However Durkheim says you should just identify particular social structures and institutions o Focus on specific things o You’ll understand all of the separate ones How can crime be “healthy”? - What is crime for Durkheim o It’s not a pathology (like a disease, man) o It’s an offence against collective settlements - Collective sentiments – and sanctions – determine “crime” - Strong and weak social sanctions o Too weak and there is no structure to society o Too strong and there is no innovation, no change, no development - We need crimes because everything has problems o If everyone is saintly then the smallest issue (ie spilling a cup of tea) becomes a crime - Therefore it’s an indication that society has some freedom Crime and Durkheim Sociology - Crime becomes a matter of: o An offence to collected sentiments  Not truths o Defined part
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