The Elementary Forms of Religious Life

The Elementary Forms of Religious Life Karen Fields has given us a splendid new translation of the greatest work of sociology ever written one we will not be embarrassed to assign to our students In addition she has written a brilliant an

  • Title: The Elementary Forms of Religious Life
  • Author: Émile Durkheim Karen E. Fields
  • ISBN: 9780029079379
  • Page: 464
  • Format: Paperback
  • Karen Fields has given us a splendid new translation of the greatest work of sociology ever written, one we will not be embarrassed to assign to our students In addition she has written a brilliant and profound introduction The publication of this translation is an occasion for general celebration, for a veritable collective effervescence Robert N Bellah Co auth Karen Fields has given us a splendid new translation of the greatest work of sociology ever written, one we will not be embarrassed to assign to our students In addition she has written a brilliant and profound introduction The publication of this translation is an occasion for general celebration, for a veritable collective effervescence Robert N Bellah Co author of Habits of the Heart, and editor of Emile Durkheim on Morality and Society This superb new translation finally allows non French speaking American readers fully to appreciate Durkheim s genius It is a labor of love for which all scholars must be grateful Lewis A Coser

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    About “Émile Durkheim Karen E. Fields

    • Émile Durkheim Karen E. Fields

      Much of Durkheim s work was concerned with how societies could maintain their integrity and coherence in modernity an era in which traditional social and religious ties are no longer assumed, and in which new social institutions have come into being His first major sociological work was The Division of Labor in Society 1893 In 1895, he published his Rules of the Sociological Method and set up the first European department of sociology, becoming France s first professor of sociology.In 1896, he established the journal L Ann e Sociologique Durkheim s seminal monograph, Suicide 1897 , a study of suicide rates amongst Catholic and Protestant populations, pioneered modern social research and served to distinguish social science from psychology and political philosophy The Elementary Forms of Religious Life 1912 , presented a theory of religion, comparing the social and cultural lives of aboriginal and modern societies.Durkheim was also deeply preoccupied with the acceptance of sociology as a legitimate science He refined the positivism originally set forth by Auguste Comte, promoting what could be considered as a form of epistemological realism, as well as the use of the hypothetico deductive model in social science For him, sociology was the science of institutions, citation needed its aim being to discover structural social facts Durkheim was a major proponent of structural functionalism, a foundational perspective in both sociology and anthropology In his view, social science should be purely holistic that is, sociology should study phenomena attributed to society at large, rather than being limited to the specific actions of individuals.He remained a dominant force in French intellectual life until his death in 1917, presenting numerous lectures and published works on a variety of topics, including the sociology of knowledge, morality, social stratification, religion, law, education, and deviance Durkheimian terms such as collective consciousness have since entered the popular lexicon.



    770 thoughts on “The Elementary Forms of Religious Life

    • This is one of the earliest foundational works in sociology and the anthropology of religion. In summary: religious life is a means of creating cosmologies, but also a means of forming and unifying societies in a single belief. This evidence is based on an examination of 'primitive' and 'childlike' peoples, including the North American Indian tribes and Australian aborigines (although he very briefly alludes to French protests as mob mentality).From a historical basis, Durkheim is important, and [...]


    • As I meander through the social science of religion, Durkheim is a breath of fresh air. Frazer’s interpretations are interesting, and he has many accurate things to say about magical psychology. But in the end, his perspective is rather narrow. William James does a great job of explaining religious feelings without de-valuing them, and his discussion of mysticism is a must-read; but James fails to take into account the (extremely important) social aspects of religion. For me, Durkheim’s expl [...]


    • OK, I recognize that it's a classic of sociology, but Durkheim's methodology is wrong. It's not a method I disagree with, not a method I consider to be flawed, but just straight up wrong in more ways than I can count. What we get is a text that, despite its search for universality, is almost comically out of date. No wonder no one reads it anymore. Like Eliade, he searches for religious meaning through primitive (read: Westerners think it's a "timeless" culture) religious ritual, and thinks that [...]


    • One of the first and foremost anthropologists to really bring a sense of critical thinking into the field. Read a lot of works before Durkheim and they're all speculations based on what "seems obvious." Granted there's plenty of archaic ideas here (e.g some cultures being more "advanced." Advancing to what?) Still, great milestone for anthropology as a systematic science/practice.


    • READ MAR 2010Exhaustive treatment of the foundation of religious forms and practices. Not an easy read, but interesting. Best quote, "Really and truly human thought is not a primitive fact; it is the product of history; it is the ideal limit towards which we are constantly approaching, but which in all probability we shall never succeed in reaching" (p. 493).


    • Emile Durkheim was basically gifted in understanding the cause of an event not basically putting it on the individual but first trying to understand why and how society affects it


    • One of my current reading projects is on Archaic Greece, and on my reading list are several books by Walter Burkert. In skimming through them, I noticed that they were rather dense and would require some background, so I looked at the bibliographies and notes, and then at the bibliographies and notes of the books they were based on, and then . . . my usual infinite regress. What I realized was that all the different paths seemed to converge on Durkheim's Elementary Forms, so I decided to start w [...]


    • Karen Fields is pretty excited about translating this work anew, and gives ED a very diplomatic reading in her translator's introduction.One thing she drops is the article 'the' in translating the French 'la' in the title. What ED thinks he is delineating are the elementary (basic, simple, mythologically privileged, evolutionarily prior, methodological starting-point) forms of religion, which everyone has (not something, as Tylor-Frazer might have, that a people 'evolves' into after 'magic' stag [...]


    • Back in 1912, Emile Durkheim felt that the totemism practiced by the Australian Aborigines was the oldest form of religion to be found. Some disagreed with him, claiming that totemism--lacking in the god department--didn't qualify as an actual religion. Emile felt it anyway. He also felt that by thinking about totemism really hard he could generate some theories about how religion itself came to be. And not just religion, but all the good stuff that comes bundled with it: the soul, spirits, myth [...]


    • I can see how this was foundational, but Durkheim is a terrible writer. I'm not going to start in on his claims (their lack of foundation; the problems with, in my view, a universalist view of religion in general), except to say that if you're planning on reading this whole book to understand his ideas, do yourself a favor and read the introduction and the conclusion. A brief review of Emile's thinking on religious life by a scholar in the field will do you more good than slogging through this. [...]


    • To give one of the founders of my new discipline some credit, I can't imagine it was fun and games trying to provide a sociological theory of religion and a religious theory of society 100 years ago. But, while I think some parts of the reasoning are sound, most of the facts upon which he bases his arguments are historically and archaeologically invalid, not to mention racist and sexist. If Durkheim had access to all of our current knowledge of the era circa 10,000-15,000 BC in the Near East, hi [...]


    • Dude, I freaking love Durkheim. Even though he's one of those armchair theorist types, he does it so brilliantly, I have trouble faulting him. Sure, his going back to a so-called primitive culture in Australia he's never encountered is uber-problematic. But he studies religious life as a social phenomenon and comes up with amazing insights about religion and culture and politics and that odd intersection where they all converge that still seem fresh nearly a century later.From what I remember, m [...]


    • Hahah, yes, I'm adding a book I had to read from soc. I was just thinking about it recently when I was discussing with someone how "Anthropology" seems to be the study of brown people while "Sociology" is the study of white people. (think about it) I have to admit that I was offended by Durkheims evaluations and theories about "elementary" forms of religion based on aboriginal and Native American cultures. Maybe I'm just too sensitive to issues of race and ethnicity. ps. Durkheim never actually [...]


    • After being beaten mercilessly with this work by a professor in three separate classes, it became apparent that there was no way around Durkheim. I can safely say that I see the world in terms of witchetty grubs. Durkheim's ability to grant insight into a culture that he never actually experienced (indeed, he never set foot in Australia) is very flawed, yet the principles of this work are what have allowed the feilds of Religious Studies and Sociology to blossom. A work worth drudging through fo [...]


    • This book put so many pieces together for me and helped me make sense of life on a pretty personal level. The ideas he puts forth play a significant role in my general philosophy now, and I continue to think about this book in daily life years after reading it. I love Durkheim for this book, even with all its methodological flaws.


    • Critically important book in the history of sociology and religious studies. Sure, there are lots of errors and misconceptions to critique, but it is mind boggling to think of the innovations Durkheim introduced into thinking about social interactions in a religious context.


    • My only complaint is that occasionally he takes too long to get to the point. Confused, I end up reading the same part again and again to understand it. Fantastic book, though! A must read for sociologists/anthropologists.


    • I'm fascinated by religion and its composition as a social structure, but I also identify as Christian. I appreciated that Durkheim was also religious and approached the subject in a scholarly way while still giving faith its due credit by emphasizing the difference between religion and faith.


    • I just love how all Durkheim can be applied to everything ever ever. Ok exaggeration. But really, how does his theory on totemism NOT apply to modern society in so many more ways than just religion


    • This book was very convoluted, and of course built off of a basis of examining the religions of "primitive" cultures. Totemism makes some sense, sometimes, but not in the ways he intends and I just overall disagree and didn't find the read very useful. Oh, this was for Theory of Religion.


    • I thought I'd never finish this (it took about a year from when I began reading it). I thoroughly enjoyed his logical presentation religion (or any other social group) via a rigorous scientific standpoint.


    • Pioneer in sociology and in social sciences in general, strives to understand the roots of religion in this work published in 1912.Durkheim, defines religion distinguishes it from magic, etc. determines that best wa


    • very interesting book the book he essentially uses a case study of an aboriginal tribe in the Australia area to identify the core components of religion and establish some principles for the "scientific" positivist study of religion



    • Overall, Durkheim's whole noble savage thing got on my nerves, but I can't deny how intricately synthesized his whole argument is. You get an A+ for effort, Emile!


    • If you want to understand Religion in society, you should read this book.I wish that every divinity student --no matter their tradition-- had to read this cover to cover.




    • A seemingly obscure work that contains important insights into the nature of religion and, surprisingly, knowledge. Dust off the cover and have a look.


    • "Les formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse: Le système totémique en Australie" est clairement une grande oeuvre d'un grand penseur mais elle difficile a classer et a evaluer. Emile Durkheim est considere comme un pioniner de la sociologie mais il a eu une formation universitaire en philosophie et son style de raisoner ressemble beaucoup a son ami le philosophe Henri Bergson. Dans "Les formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse: Le système totémique en Australie" Durkheim nous livre une [...]


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