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Durkheim’s Philosophy of Science and the Sociology of Knowledge

Creating an Intellectual Niche

In this demonstration of the link between philosophy of science and scientific practice, Warren Schmaus argues that Durkheim’s philosophy is crucial to his sociology. Through a reinterpretation of the relation between Durkheim’s major philosophical and sociological works, Schmaus argues that Durkheim’s sociology is more than a collection of general observations about society—it reflects a richly constructed theory of the meanings and causes of social life.

Schmaus shows how Durkheim sought to make sociology more rigorous by introducing scientific methods of analysis and explanation into the study of society. Durkheim tried to reveal how implicit, commonly held beliefs actually govern people’s lives. Through an original interpretation of Durkheim’s landmark writings, Schmaus argues that Durkheim, in his empirical studies, refined both the methods of sociology and a theory about society’s shared knowledge and practices.

This book opens a new window on the development of Durkheim’s thought and demonstrates how a philosophy of science can inspire the rise of a new science.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
I: Creating a Niche
1: Interpreting Durkheim
2: Durkheim on the Division of Intellectual Labor
II: The Explanation Goals and Methods of Inquiry of Durkheim’s Research Program
3: Social Facts and Collective Representations
4: Durkheim’s Concept of Sociological Explanation
5: Durkheim on Method
III: An Analysis of Durkheim’s Major Empirical Works
6: The Division of Labor in Society
7: Suicide
8: The Elementary’ Forms of the Religious Life
IV: An Evaluation of Durkheim’s Sociological Research Program
9: Conclusion

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