Does Durkheim Enhance Our Understanding of Law and Religion?

14 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2015

See all articles by Prakash Shah

Prakash Shah

Queen Mary, University of London

Date Written: November 23, 2015


In this paper, I view Durkheim in two ways: in his intellectual context and as a scientist whose claims can be tested independently of that context. Durkheim’s claims on religion demonstrate his Western culturality, which constrains and qualifies those claims and limits their relevance today. His universal claims about religion actually depend on and presuppose core Christian theological themes to make them intelligible and raise questions that are possible only within a cultural context like the Western culture which is constituted by a religion: Christianity. This is made much more obvious when placing Durkheim’s claims against the theory of religion developed by Balagangadhara, whose work shows why the claim of religion as a universal derives from Christian theology, why religions are what the Semitic religions are, and why Asia as a culture has no religion. Balagangadhara’s theory solves problems that Durkheim’s work either does not address itself to or cannot explain and generates important new questions for law and religion studies.

Suggested Citation

Shah, Prakash, Does Durkheim Enhance Our Understanding of Law and Religion? (November 23, 2015). Queen Mary School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 212/2015, Available at SSRN:

Prakash Shah (Contact Author)

Queen Mary, University of London ( email )

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