October, 24, 2013
Lecture 6 Emile Durkheim
2) Emile Durkheim: historical context
3) The Division of Labor in Society
4) Underlying assumptions in Durkheim’s theory
1) Recap: what we covered so far?
• crime is considered an individual crime; freely committed crime or have a pathological mind
• Becerra = free will and rational choice; freely make choices; we're all equal, should not
• Lombroso = Biology; born with biological tendencies
• interaction between individual and the environment
• Routine activities theory contemporary biosocial theories -= Environment
• Biosocial interested in the interaction of the individual biology; how does it trigger biological
traits?Also, with evolutionary psychology\
Where are we going?
• cultural criminology: culture
• sociological theories: society
2. Emile Durkheim (1858-1917)
• sociological positivism
- Individual = society
• structural determinism
• character of society would determine what we would find
• historical context:
- Paris commune (1871) - Third public
• proposed that we should study society by concentrating on structural determinism (focus on
how the structures in society determine the character of a particular society
• Interested in how societies maintained order? Why? related to his historical context
• *French details* 1789-1870 revolution; danger of being with dictatorship and revolution; 1871
Paris commune was created; country lacked social order and in order to rejuvenate, the
country needed a nationalistic approach and was favored over the religious report; 3rd republic
made a secular education
• proposed the moral of education *non-physical values*; education would unite them all
together in society; punishment becomes a moral education to Durkheim
How do societies come together?
• moral education
• national unity and social cohesion
3. The division of labor in society
• *Main assumption* society evolves and as it evolves it will change. and social order will effect
this social solidarity
• social solidarity refers to an integrated system of social relations, social practices
and social norms
• What holds society together?
- Crime provides an opportunity for punishment. Punishment functions as a ritualistic
reaffirmation of social solidarity *positive social function, what is it? It promotes
punishment; it is collective vengeful response that reinforces collective responses
and teaches members in society social and moral norms
• punishment does not act on the criminal; different from becceria and Lombroso
( becceria- act on the criminal to deter them ; Lombroso: also act on criminal either
through incapacitate or rehabilitation; Durkheim; does not act on criminal but through
-‘We may state that punishment is above all intended to have its effect upon
honest people’ (excerpt p. 63/course kit p.109)
• Conscience (moral and emotional) + Consciousness (cognitive)
• Definition: is the "totality of beliefs and sentiments common to the average members of
society" (pp. 38-39/p.97)
• Can also include unconscious (latent) sentiments; we have beliefs and sentiments that
are not fully formed or clearly articulate.
• Treats it as a social fact; it naturally exists; but he doesn't explain how it came
into existence. At best, he tells us that it will change • Effects; punishment is important because of its effect and crime is important because
of its effect. Does not talk about intent.
What is crime?
• ‘An act is criminal when it offends the strong, well-defined states of the collective
consciousness’ (p. 39/97).
• ‘We should not say that an act offends the common consciousness because it is
criminal, but that it is criminal because it offends that consciousness. We do not
condemn it because it is a crime, but it is a crime because we condemn it’ (p. 40/98)
• Durkheim is untangling cause and effect. a crime is only a crime on when an offence is
a collective consciousness
• Important concept because Durkheim's theory would not work; it explains why
something is criminal.
• Crimes against the state *treason*
- The state is society's "brain"
• Defend the collective conscience from all its enemies
• Crime is a normal and necessary feature of society
-‘However numerous its varieties, crime is essentially the same everywhere,
since everywhere it entails the same consequence, that is punishment’ (p.
• existed in prosperity and overnight
• universal theory of crime
How does crime contribute to crime solidarity?
• provoke punishment as a solidarity
• When we punish the criminal, this has an effect on us? What is it? when we punish the criminal
we are informing society the moral values that we should not cross
• if you cross the line you will be punished; punishment and crime tells us what it means to live
morally and what society's social and moral norms are
• symbolic reminder of our moral boundaries as a society
Group solidarity function
• Unites us as a community from a common enemy; when we have this collective reaction to
crime we will have a stronger community because we have strengthened our bonds.
Adaptation (innovation) function
• changes and public attitudes towards crime; crime could move society forward and it could do
so by helping society adapt and be more flexible to changing environments
• what will allow society to change its rules or moral values • How? division of labor; we don't all do the same jobs, so we all have different norms and
different values; we don't all behave a certain way or agree on what is right or wrong
• If we all behaved the same, we would have universal conformity and it is harmful because it
suppresses behavioral ideas.
• projecting social problems on some criminal or rule breaking group; we can reduce these
internal intentions and society can be maintained in a proper way
• Greek Nomos (law and norms)
• Anomie is a state of normlessness or lawlessness
• argues that there's too much individualism
• if the society is in transition; it could not have clear social norms about how to behave because
its transition from one society to another society with its own set of norms
• Anomie (what might produce crime)
• What is the solution? counteracted by 1) moral education and 3) crime and punishment
• when someone commits a crime and that causes a punishment which reinforces us
about our moral boundaries in society’s and because we know what it is, we can