Emile Durkheim's major works are among the founding texts of the discipline of sociology, but his importance lies also in his immense legacy and subsequent influence upon others. In this book, Philip Smith examines not only Durkheim's original ideas, but also reveals how he inspired more than a century of theoretical innovations, identifying the key paths, bridges, and dead ends - as well as the tensions and resolutions - in what has been a remarkably complex intellectual history. Beginning with an overview of the key elements of Durkheim's mature masterpieces, Smith also examines his lesser known essays, commentaries and lectures. He goes on to analyse his immediate influence on the Annee Sociologique group, before tracing the international impact of Durkheim upon modern anthropology, sociology, and social and cultural theory. Smith shows that many leading social thinkers, from Marcel Mauss to Mary Douglas and Randall Collins, have been carriers for the multiple pathways mapped out in Durkheim's original thought. This book will be essential reading for any student or scholar seeking to understand this fundamental impact on areas ranging from social theory and anthropology to religious studies and beyond.
Smith's book is a marvelous theoretical and scholarly accomplishment. It is far and away the most insightful and important work ever written not only about Durkheim but, most importantly, the tradition he created. Jeffrey C. Alexander, Yale University This book is like the sun coming up, dispelling the myths that sociology has never made any important discoveries or sharpened its knowledge across the generations. Philip Smith's lucid and fair-minded account tells the story from Durkheim's team to the theoretical trajectories of today, while touching on much of the intellectual action for over a century. Randall Collins, University of Pennsylvania A masterpiece of sociological theory - well written and based on an impressive breadth of knowledge, a strong capacity for synthesis, and a great open-mindedness. Marcel Fournier, University of Montreal This book sensitizes us to the richness of Durkheim's heritage, the inspirations that have been drawn from it and those that are still waiting to become fruitful. It offers a useful overview of the twists and turns of the Durkheim reception - with a particular focus on American cultural sociology. Hans Joas, Humboldt University, Berlin, and University of Chicago