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Foundations of Modern Social Thought (SOCY 151)
Emile Durkheim, a French scholar who lived from 1858 until 1917, was one of the first intellectuals to use the term "sociology" to describe his work. In the early years of his career, Durkheim's orientation was functionalist (The Division of Labor in Society) and positivist (The Rules of Sociological Method); in the early twentieth century he took a cultural turn and became interested in religion (The Elementary Forms of Religious Life). Throughout his career, Durkheim was a methodological collectivist, and—unlike Marx and Weber, who were interested in social conflict—was consistently interested in what holds society together. Durkheim argues in The Division of Labor in Society that the type of social solidarity has changed, due to the increasing division of labor, from mechanical solidarity between similar individuals to organic solidarity based on difference. Inspired by Montesquieu, Durkheim tracks this change in types of solidarity and change in what he termed the "collective conscience" by looking at a shift in law, from penal law focused on punishing individuals to restitutory law based on contract. Durkheim believed that society would function better if individuals labor at different and complementary tasks with the same vision or goal in mind.
00:00 - Chapter 1. Durkheim in a Historical Context
17:17 - Chapter 2. "The Division of Labor in Society": Major Themes
26:16 - Chapter 3. The Law in Pre-modern and Modern Societies
31:41 - Chapter 4. Mechanical Solidarity and Organic Solidarity
Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale.edu/courses
This course was recorded in Fall 2009.