Sociology and Emile Durkheim

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Compare and contrast the theories and methods of Emile Durkheim and Max Weber regarding social behavior.

Emile Durkheim and Max Weber are founding fathers of sociology and outstanding sociologists who made great contributions to the development of sociology and progress of human beings. Previous studies have been done about the theories and methods of Durkheim and Weber, and their works have also been studied for many times from different viewpoints, such as the nature of human and social world, their mutual unawareness of each other and so on. However, few studies have been done to compare and contrast their thoughts and methodologies on social behavior. This essay examines Durkheim’ and Weber’s theories and methods
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Durkheim made attempts to figure out whether human behavior was caused by social structures instead of mental state (Benton and Craib, 2001, P.25). He collected a vast array of statistics on suicide rates and he showed that suicide rates were not caused by non-social factors, such as race, genetics, mental disorder, climate, season and so on. He went on to argue that suicide rate were caused by social factors such as religious faith, marital status, income and employment and so on. As suicide rates in different countries and different categories of people were different, Durkheim compared them and showed that there was a remarkable constancy Protestants had higher suicide rates than Catholics, and Catholics higher rates than Jews. By collecting statistics and comparing suicide rates in different countries, Durkheim confirmed the existence of social facts.

3.Max Weber’s theory and method regarding social behavior
Max Weber (1864-1920) is a German sociologist and one of the key thinkers of Interpretivism. Interpretive approaches see the ‘real world’ as being socially constructed and we interpret the world around us. Max Weber, with Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim, is regarded as one of the three founding fathers of sociology. His theory concerned with social behavior is Social Action. In the process of studying social action, Weber used Verstehen as a method and used Ideal Types as a tool.

3.1 Theory: Social Action
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