Durkheim and the Puzzle of Social Complexity
By Mohamed Cherkaoui
March 2008, hardback, 232 pp.
In this remarkable defence of Durkheimian social theory, Mohamed Cherkaoui analyses the relevance of the great French sociologist's ideas for understanding contemporary society. These range from the discussion of anomie and suicide, to the role of politics in pedagogy and educational organisation.
Professor Cherkaoui subjects many of the central concepts and intuitions to be found in Durkheim to a careful analysis which shows just how relevant they remain, a century after their formulation. By taking a novel interactionist interpretation of Durkheim, he embraces all of the work of the French sociologist and demonstrates the internal coherence of the entirety of Durkheimian theory. This “non-conformist” interpretation of Durkheim’s sociological theory amply demonstrates why it remains influential for a considerable amount of contemporary sociological and educational research.
Professor Cherkaoui's robust defence of Durkheim's theoretical strategy and its application to education forcefully demonstrates the merits of a close reading of Durkheim’s sociological works and their intellectual elaboration and development.
—From the Foreword by Bryan S. Turner, Asia Research Institute,, National University of Singapore
Note on Translation
Introduction (Downloard pdf)
Part I: Principles of Sociological Analysis
Chapter 1 - Emergence and Interdependence: Is Durkheimian Theory Holistic?
Chapter 2 - Social Change and Anomie: An Attempt to Formalise Durkheimian Theory
Chapter 3 - Durkheim's Theory of Explanation: The Deductive-nomological and Generative Mechanism Models
Chapter 4 - Theory and Taxonomy: Suicides and Abnormal Forms of the Division of Labour
Part II: Foundations of a Sociological Theory of Education Systems
Chapter 5 - Socialisation and Conflict: Educational Systems and Their History in the Work of Durkheim
Chapter 6 - Social System and Educational Knowledge: Durkheim's Analysis of Political Stakes in the Distribution
Chapter 7 - Consensus or Conflict? Return to Durkheim's Proteiform Theory
Chapter 8 - Social Order and Educational Codes: Two Theories of Change in Educational Systems
About the Author:
Mohamed Cherkaoui is among France's most respected sociologists. He is director of the Groupe d'Etude des Méthodes de l'Analyse Sociologique of the CNRS, a member of the national committee of the CNRS, and also teaches at the University of Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV). His work on the sociology of education, on social stratification and social class is widely known. He has also published a number of works on the contemporary relevance of classical sociology, which include important studies of Emile Durkheim and his theory of suicide, and Max Weber’s concept of the paradox of consequences. Mohamed Cherkaoui is a leading exponent of social mechanisms theory, and his work on the resolution of the macro–micro debate within sociology has made a notable contribution to the discipline.
He is a member of the European Academy of Sociology and the Academia Europaea.