Durkheim on Justice, Morals and Politics
Émile Durkheim: Justice, Morality and Politics, R. Cotterrell, ed., Ashgate Publishing, 2010, pp. xi-xxiv.
19 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2010 Last revised: 10 Apr 2016
Date Written: June 3, 2010
This paper is the introduction to a collection of essays focusing on three closely-connected aspects of Émile Durkheim’s work: his sociology of justice, his sociology of morality and his political sociology. It is argued that these areas of his thought are the most relevant and practical today in considering fundamental problems of contemporary societies and they provide many of the most important insights of his social theory. The introduction addresses recent controversies about the nature of solidarity in diverse contemporary societies, in relation to ideas about the nature of justice and the sociology of morals and the possibility of ultimate unifying social values in these societies. It considers Durkheim’s conception of justice as originally developed in his first book The Division of Labour in Society (1893), and assesses the relevance of this conception for his later work.Also discussed are Durkheim’s ideas on moral individualism as a universal modern value system emphasising the dignity of the individual and the importance of human rights. Finally, the introduction links Durkheim’s views on justice and moral individualism to his work of politics, the state and corporate groups. The sociologies of justice, morality and politics provide a general context for his understanding of appropriate public regulation. As such they also establish the broader moral-political framework in which his sociology of law is developed.
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