Elementary Form of a Religious Life

Powerful Essays
Topics: Religion
John N. Abletis | | Prof. Randolf S. David | MA Sociology Student | | Classical Sociological Theory (Socio 271) | 2009-79293 | | UPD-CSSP-Dep’t. of Sociology | | | January 20, 2011 | | Excerpts from | | The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life: A Study in Religious SociologyEmile Durkheim Translated from the French by Joseph Ward Sain 1926, London, George Allen & Unwin, Ltd. | Introduction: 1. “The greatest single book of the twentieth century” (Collins & Makowsky, 1998, p. 111) 2. It is “inspired by Marx’s celebrated idea that the social existence of men determines their social consciousness” (Zeitlin, 1968, p. 276). 3. “Elementary Forms is more than a study of social integration; it is also an excursion into human evolution, the sociology of knowledge, functional and causal analyses, the origin and basis of thought… [It] is thus a long, complex, and—compared with earlier works—less coherently organized book” (Turner, Beeghley, & Powers, 1995, p. 336). 4. “[His] study of religion represents the beginning of his formal work on morality. Although he had lectured on morality in his courses on education and had written several articles on morality, he saw in religion a chance to study how interaction among individuals leads to the creation of symbolic systems that (1) lace together individual actions into collective units, (2) regulate and control individual desires, and (3) attach individuals to both the symbolic and structural… facets of the social world. In the face of anomie and egoism, he thought that an understanding of religious morality in primitive social systems would throw light on how much morality could be created in modern, differentiated systems” (Ibid, p. 335). 5. “Durkheim… is interested in religion largely because he considers religion to be especially effective in developing common values—and so a very good source of integration. Durkheim’s search for an equally strong integrative force in modern


Bibliography: Collins, R. (1994). Four Sociological Traditions: Revised and expanded edition of Three Sociological Traditions, NY: Oxford University Press Collins, R. & Makowsky, M. (1998). The Discovery of Society, 6th ed., Singapore: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Durkheim, E. (1912/1926). The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life: A Study in Religious Sociology, NY: The MacMillan Company Jones, R. A. (1986). Emile Durkheim: An Introduction to Four Major Works. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. Pp. 115-155. (Excerpts retrieved from http://durkheim.uchicago.edu/ Summaries/forms.html#pgfId=5067 on January 19, 2010) Pampel, F. C. (2000). Sociological Lives and Ideas: An Introduction to the Classical Theorists, NY: Worth Publishers Ritzer, G. (1992). Classical Sociological Theory, NY: McGraw-Hill, Inc. Turner, J. H., Beeghley, L., & Powers, C. H. (1995). The Emergence of Sociological Theory, 3rd ed., CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company Wallace, R. A. & Wolf, A. (1986). Contemporary Sociological Theory: Continuing the Classical Tradition, 2nd ed., NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc. Zeitlin, I. M. (1968). Ideology and the Development of Sociological Theory, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

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