Sociology is the study of the structure of groups, organizations, and societies, and how individuals interact within these environments. Sociology at one time was not a respectable or well-known field of study until Emile Durkheim, a college professor, made sociology a part of the French college curriculum. Durkheim is regarded as one of the founders of sociology. He introduced sociology as a branch of learning separate from other sciences by declaring that sociologists must examine specific characteristics of group life. In this paper, I plan to provide some insight into who Emile Durkheim was and his contributions to the field of sociology.
Emile Durkheim was born on April 13, 1958, in the eastern city of Epinal, in the section of the Vosges. He was born into a Jewish family of very humble means, and it was assumed that he would become a rabbi, like his father. As early as his late teens Durkheim became convinced that struggle and even sadness are more favorable to the spiritual development of a human being than happiness or bliss. He developed into a seriously disciplined young man. He attended College d’ Epinal and was awarded several honors and recognitions. After that he transferred to a French high school, The Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris. While going there he primed himself for the examination that would later open doors to the influential Ecole Normale Superieure, a postgraduate traditional training establishment for the cream of the crop of Paris (Wolff, 1960).
Durkheim was enrolled in Ecole Normale Superieure in 1879. He discovered independence, financial security, and the inspiring companionship of exceptional, enthusiastic young scholars. He loved the talk of ideas, and his genuineness earned him admiration, but he in no way confined himself in a library or restricted himself to the study of the past. Philosophy was his calling from the beginning, but a philosophy that had political and societal purposes. Durkheim was disappointed with his schooling. He thought that the director and most of the teachers at the school were shallow, conservative and lacking in intellectual enthusiasm. However, a few teachers made a lasting impression on Durkheim. Later on in time, he confessed that, conventional as the schooling was at the Ecole Normale, highlighting early languages and speech did not hamper the ideas and opinions of other sociologists that attended the school (Wolff, 1960).
After graduating Ecole Normale, Durkheim was assigned to several local secondary schools as a philosophy teacher. The humanities field in French secondary schools consisted of one entire year dedicated to philosophy: for ten hours a week, students studied psychology, logic, ethics, metaphysics, and elements of the history of philosophy. Durkheim became attracted to sociology because it worked with the living and not the dead; he had preferred it to other branches of philosophy because it was at one and the same time theoretical and practical. Durkheim was...