What Are the Major Contributions of Emile Durkheim?

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Émile Durkheim was a French sociologist whose major contribution was establishing sociology as a major science. Along with Max Weber and Karl Marx, Durkheim is responsible for establishing social science and social psychology as an academic discipline within the college setting. He is considered the father of social science.

In 1887 at the University of Bordeaux, Émile Durkheim was reluctantly given the title “Chargéd’un Cours de Science Sociale et de Pédagogie,” which loosely translates to Professor of Social Science. It was under this guise that sociology first entered the French university system. The mostly “humanist” faculty at Bordeaux preferred the traditional views of history, law and philosophy and were not happy about Durkheim’s presence. Durkheim aroused fears of “social imperialism.” During Durkheim’s tenure at Bordeaux from 1887 to 1902, his main job was to lecture on the theory, history and practice of education. He also held Saturday morning lectures on social science for the public and covered topics such as incest, totemism, suicide, crime, religion, socialism, law, family and kinship.

Durkheim wrote four major works during his lifetime. The first, “The Division of Labor in Society” was published in 1893. “The Rules of Sociological Method” was published in 1895. “Suicide,” his third major work, was published in 1897, and “The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life” was published in 1912.