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This essay looks at the literature on sociology from the perspective of Emile Durkheim. It examines the reasons that necessitate a society to hang together in the face of challenges that face their unity. According to the literature, Emile Durkheim observed that both organic and mechanical factors of sociology serve to protect social integration. Further, this literature makes a critical look at the objective and scientific approaches that Durkheim recommends for an ideal study of sociology.

Sociological Theories of Emile Durkheim

The sociological theory of Durkheim was primarily concerned with how societies are able to maintain a state of coherence and functionalism in the current social set up where traditional ties as well as religious integration are non-existent. According to his works the society has undergone some change from a mechanical form of social integration to an organic one. The mechanical solidarity was basically due to the feeling that the society has towards a common ancestry and the fact that they are all subject to one supernatural being. This type of integration held at the time when religion was properly respected without question. However, with the coming of the secularism and to a large extent science the society has adopted an organic aspect of social integration. This is the interdependence that humans face towards one another that makes them a mutual feeling of need for one another. (Durkheim, 1912)

Durkheim’s view of religion is that of a social phenomenon. According to his book “The Elementary Forms of Religious Life”, he explains the source of religion as the need for emotional security that the society only attains from a belief in a supernatural human. Further, religion necessitates the need to adopt a communal way of life as well as associating the same feelings with various objects within the immediate environment. As a matter of fact, it was the eventual ascription of superhuman powers on these environmental objects that led to the concept of totemism. The superhuman powers are then regarded as sacred as they are the only phenomenon that invokes an integrated pattern of practices and social beliefs among the members of the society. (Durkheim, 1912)

The concept of knowledge has been deeply theorized by Emile Durkheim. This is basically defined as the interrelation that exists between human thoughts as regards the social context in which it arises. In particular, Durkheim’s work on knowledge has a lot to do with the manner in which language and logic can be modeled by the sociological paradigms within which it happens to arise. This typically depicts knowledge as a primitive idea that has to go through several stages of sociological redefinition to be relevant to that particular society. (Durkheim, & Simpson, 1947)

Furthermore, Emile Durkheim redefines the concept of positivism as earlier defined by Auguste Comte. According to him, the society is composed of institutions that can be scientifically studied to determine structural functionalism of any society. This he explains as the smooth sailing of issues to do with society as everyone perfectly understands their roles. This comes out very clearly from the “the Division of Labor in Society”. Durkheim further explains that a study of the society must look holistically at the society rather than individual components of that society. (Durkheim, & Simpson, 1947)

Moreover, Durkheim extensively examines the idea of suicide as regards the level of social integration. According to his works, different levels of sociological integration determine the type of suicide that becomes rampant in the society. For instance, when the society is properly integrated people often have the feeling to commit altruistic suicide. This suicide is largely seen as being for the benefit of the entire society. Alternatively, an individual may decide to commit suicide because they feel hopeless from the fact that they are not adequately integrated into the society. These interrelations define what become of a society. (Durkheim, 1912)

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