DEBATING SOCIAL POWER
Why is it that Jacques Plouin has to defend Durkheim's model of violence.
"Durkheim's theoretical work is often regarded as being uninterested in social
struggles and hence ill-equipped as a tool for understanding violence, which is most
frequently associated with an excessive use of force ... Should we conclude from this
that violence is a blind spot in the Dirkheimian model in so far as it is not the
subject of a general theory?"
- but this means that people are going into Durkheim with their own preconceived
notion of violence.
- but is there actually a blind spot in Durkheim when it comes to violence?
where did this paradigm of durkheim come from?
every textbook tells us that EMILE DURKHEIM is the major architect of STRUCTURAL-
Talcott Parsons invented this phrase.
If anything, Durkheim was creating a positive social science, not a functionalism.
Understanding this role of a function was a response to a lot of other french thinkers
using Herbert Spencer and biological metaphors and functional explanations.
Because of these dogmatic interpretations laid out by Parsons in the early years of
North American sociology, Durkheim has often been criticized of being limited by his
model of societal consensus. Their criticism goes like this: THE CONSCIENCE COLLECTIVE
IS ONE TOTALITY, ALL-ENCOMPASSING MORAL FORCE. IF EVERYONE ALWAYS BEHAVES ACCORDING TO
THESE RULES, HOW DO WE EXPLAIN CONFLICT (ENTER CONFLICT THEORY IN YOUR FIRST YEAR TEXT
BOOK, SOUND FAMILIAR?).
Durkheim's argument has two dimensions:
ONE: religious rituals were the first instances where we can see social power.
"the force that isolates the sacred being and holds the profane ones at a distance is,
in reality, not in that being; it lives in the consciousness of the faithful. thus the
faithful feel it at the very moment that it acts on teir wills to prohibit certain
actions and prescribe others."
therefore, the social produces (ie causes) an effect of constraint and necessity:
through its moral force, we understand our obligation to do particular things, like
acting a particular way in religious places with religious things.
TWO: our own understandings of CAUSE AND EFFECT emerged from ancient religious ritual
and primitive conceptions of magic.
-this argument has an EPISTEMOLOGICAL component to it: our theory of knowledge has a
why do we need a theory of power without violence or coercion?
POWER DOES NOT LAY IN THE INDIVIDUAL
you are born into a world with particular customs and understandings.
you dont have the power to creat