Useful Durkheim

Sociological Theory 14 (2):109-130 (1996)
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Abstract

From the mid-1960s through much of the 1980s, Durkheim's contributions to historical-comparative sociology were decidedly marginalized; the title of one of Charles Tilly's essays, "Useless Durkheim," conveys this prevailing sensibility with perfect clarity. Here, by contrast, I draw upon writings from Durkheim's later "religious" period to show how Durkheim has special relevance today for debates in the historical-comparative field. I examine how his substantive writings shed light on current discussions regarding civil society; how his analytical insights help to show how action within civil society as well as other historical contexts is channelled by cultural, social-structural, and social-psychological configurations (plus transformative human agency); and how his ontological commitment to a "relational social realism" contributes to ongoing attempts to rethink the foundations of historical-comparative investigation

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