Sociology and the Social Sciences (1903)

  • Emile Durkheim
Part of the Contemporary Social Theory book series


Sociology is commonly said to be the science of social facts, that is to say, the science of those phenomena which show the life of societies itself. Although this definition may pass as a truism no longer disputed by anybody, the object of the science is far from being determined by this alone. Indeed, those very facts which are ascribed as its subject matter are already studied by a host of specific disciplines, such as the history of religions, law and political institutions, and statistics and economics. We are therefore seemingly faced with this alternative: either sociology has the same subject matter as those sciences termed historical or social and is then merged with them, being no more than the generic term which serves to designate them as a whole; or it is a distinct science, possessing its own individual character. Yet to be so it must have a content specifically its own. Consequently, where is this to be found outside the phenomena with which the different social sciences deal?


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© Macmillan Publishers Limited 1982

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  • Emile Durkheim

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