Biography of Emile Durkheim

1258 Words Dec 4th, 2012 6 Pages
Biography of Durkheim and his contribution to criminological thought- (1000 words, 30%)

David Emile Durkheim, who was a French Sociologist, was born on April 15th in Epinal, France, 1858. He is arguably the most influential figure in western sociology and also immensely significant in criminology. He lived until the age of 59 when he suffered a stroke after he had recovered for a sufficient amount of time he then continued with his work however he eventually died, in Paris, on November 15th, 1917. He was, and is still today, one of the many key thinkers in the field of criminology. Durkheim said himself that it was mainly influenced by the philosopher August Comte. He wrote about ten books though is probably best known for his
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On the topic of punishment Durkheim suggests that ‘Punishment is a passionate social reaction, of graduated intensity’, (Breathnach, 2002).

In addition to this he had 4 ideas that were the functions of crime and deviance. The first was that deviance is crucial to the process of creating and maintaining morality. He said that in culture people have moral choices over what to do and how to live whether it be good and bad. ‘No good without evil, therefore no justice without crime’. Secondly deviance tends to clarify and label moral boundaries. By cataloguing individuals as being deviant it draws social boundaries between people and their behaviours. If we were to emphasize deviance then it will also force conformity, the matter of following norms, to our attention. Thirdly deviance promotes ‘social unity’ through collective outrages. For example how we, as a society, react to certain situations, particularly serious situations. We act as one with one mind of sorts and it reaffirms our moral ties that bind us together. Finally deviance may encourage social change as it pushes limits and gives us an alternative to the status quo, the way we live now. ‘Histories deviance is today’s expectation, todays deviance is tomorrow’s morality’. Both of these ideas and functions on crime and deviance are still relevant today as they can be applied to nowadays situations.

In 1893 he wrote ‘The division of labour in society’, which was

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