Emile Durkheim was a French sociologist whose rise to prominence is dated back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He is renowned as one of the founding fathers of modern sociology with the likes of Karl Marx and Marx Weber. In fact, he was the first French Academic sociologist. Durkheim was born on 15th April 1858 in the Eastern French province of Lorraine to a rabbi. His father descended from a line of rabbis and even he made the decision of becoming a rabbi once he grew old.
In order to remain true to his convictions, Emile Durkheim studied Hebrew, the Old Testament and the Talmund while also adhering to the secular instructions in school. Just after attaining Jewish confirmation at the age of thirteen, he met a Catholic woman teacher who drove him to developing an interest in Catholicism. However, this did not last for long since Durkheim abolished all religious involvement and turned into an agnostic.
At the College d’Epinal, Durkheim was a brilliant student who received several awards and honors. This re-energized his ambitions and made him to transfer to Lycee Louis-le-Grand in Paris. Here, he made several attempts and eventually passed the entrance examinations to the Ecole Normale Superieure; a traditional training ground for French elites. Here, he met quite a number of young men who also made significant impacts on the French intellectual life.
Durkheim developed an interest in scientific approach to society at a very tender age in his career. He did not like the humanistic studies so interesting, thus, shifted his focus from philosophy and psychology to ethics and sociology. Despite attaining a degree in philosophy, his views could not allow him to secure a major academic appointment in Paris, thus taught philosophy at provincial schools from 1882 to 1887.
In 1885, Durkheim went back to Germany where he later published a variety of articles on German philosophy and social science. These works were recognized by many in France and eventually earned him a teaching appointment at the University of Bordeaux in 1887. While at his job here, he helped in reforming the French school system and introduced the study of social science in the curriculum. It is in the same year that Durkheim got married to Louise Dreyfus who later bore him two children.
The first major work to be published by Emile Durkheim is The Division of Labor in Society in 1893. Two years later, he published another one titled; The Rules of Sociological Method, defining what sociology is all about and how it should be applied. His third major work was, Suicide: A Study in Sociology.
In his entire life, Durkheim was a force to reckon with in French intellectual life. He advanced to become the chair of education at the Sorbonne, advisor to the Ministry of Education among other several leadership positions. It is stated that by 1902, he had been able to achieve his dream of prominence on Paris. Emile Durkheim’s last major work to be published was, The elementary Forms of the Religious Life in 1912 before his death five years later.
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