Emile Durkheim is best known in this country as a great sociologist and methodologist. Yet it was Durkheim's reflections on morality and society that spoke most deeply of his vital concerns. In his informative introduction to this work, Robert N. Bellah describes Durkheim as moralist, philosopher, theologian, and prophet, as well as sociologist, and the selections in this volume are representative of these aspects of Durkheim's many-faceted scholarship.
The first two selections of the volume set the context for the development of Durkheim's sociology of morality. Section I, "The French Tradition of Social Thought," gives Durkheim's picture of how his sociology is to be situated relative to the general French tradition. Section II, "Sociology and Social Action," shows Durkheim grappling with moral and political issues in his society and indicates the immediate social context of his thinking.
The remaining selections indicate some of the major substantive areas of Durkheim's sociology of morality. Section III, taken from The Division of Labor in Society, demonstrates his basically evolutionary approach to the development of moral norms in society. Section IV, "The Learning of Morality," gives examples of Durkheim's work on socialization. Section V, "Social Creativity," deals with the important question of how new moral norms arise in society.
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