Émile Durkheim and the Collective Consciousness of Society

Émile Durkheim and the Collective Consciousness of Society

A Study in Criminology

By Kenneth Smith

Key Issues in Modern Sociology

This volume presents the first ever book-length treatment of Émile Durkheim’s concept of the ‘collective consciousness of society’. 

Paperback, 276 Pages

ISBN:9781783082285

January 2014

£25.00, $49.95

  • About This Book
  • Reviews
  • Author Information
  • Series
  • Table of Contents
  • Links

About This Book

‘Émile Durkheim and the Collective Consciousness of Society: A Study in Criminology’ challenges conventional thinking on the use of Durkheim’s key concept of the ‘collective consciousness of society’, and represents the first ever book-length treatment of this underexplored topic. Operating from both a criminological and sociological perspective, Kenneth Smith argues that Durkheim’s original concept must be sensitively revised and updated for its real relevance to come to the fore.

This study puts forward three major adjustments to Durkheim’s concept of the collective consciousness. It complicates the idea that the common and collective consciousness are interchangeable terms for the same phenomenon; it refutes the ‘disciplinary’ function of society as part of the concept of the common or collective consciousness; and it reveals the illusiveness of the supposed universal set of equally held ideas in a society, underlining the importance of geographical and generational variation.

Reviews

‘This excellent book makes a number of extremely interesting and original arguments and neatly links the historical/theoretical focus on Durkheim to contemporary criminological and more broadly sociological concerns. It should be accessible to undergraduates as well as being of interest to scholars in the field.’ —William Outhwaite, Professor of Sociology, Newcastle University, UK


‘In his excellent book Kenneth Smith provides a rigorous reading of a wider range of Durkheim’s texts than is typically used by sociologists and criminologists. In doing so, he finds rarely noticed positive developments of, but also flaws in, the conceptual systems Durkheim deploys. Smith works with these systems, discriminating between them, correcting them, combining them, and using his own sociological imagination to produce a new and conceptually enriched Durkheimianism.’ —Frank Pearce, Professor of Sociology, Queen’s University, Canada

Author Information

Kenneth Smith is Reader in Criminology and Sociology at Buckinghamshire New University, High Wycombe, UK and the author of ‘A Guide to Marx’s “Capital” Vols I–III’ (2012), also published by Anthem Press.

Series

Key Issues in Modern Sociology

Table of Contents

Preface: Erewhon; Introduction; Part I: The Concept of the Collective Consciousness of Society; 1. Durkheim on the Collective Consciousness in ‘Moral Education’; 2. Durkheim’s Other Writings on the Concept of the Collective Consciousness; 3. Collective Consciousness, Common Consciousness, Collective Conscience or Conscience Collective?; Part II: The Form of the Collective Consciousness; 4. The Form that the Collective Consciousness(es) of Society Takes in a Late-Industrial Society: I. Macro-sociological or ‘General’ Characteristics; 5. The State as the ‘Organ’ of the Common Consciousness; 6. ‘The Rule-of-Law’: A Case Study; 7. The Form that the Collective Consciousness Takes in Early Twenty-First Century Britain: II. Micro-sociological, Individual or Small-Scale Factors; Part III: Durkheim on Crime and Punishment; 8. Durkheim on Crime and Punishment in ‘The Division of Labour in Society’; 9. Durkheim on Crime and Punishment in ‘The Rules of Sociological Method’; 10. Interregnum on ‘Suicide’ (1897); 11. Durkheim’s Undeservedly Famous ‘Two Laws of Penal Evolution’ Essay (1901); 12. Durkheim on Crime and Punishment in ‘Moral Education’ (1902–03); Part IV: Social Factor Social Phenomenon? Durkheim’s Concept of the Collective Consciousness as a ‘Social Fact’; 13. What Does Durkheim Mean by the Concept of the ‘Social’ and What Does He Mean by the Concept of a ‘Fact’?; 14. Social Facts or Social Phenomena?; 15. Social Facts and Sociology; 16. Social Facts as Living Things; Part V: Some Problems with Durkheim’s Concept of the Common and Collective Consciousness; 17. Interdependence and the Division of Labour in Society; 18. Durkheim on Socialism; 19. Professional Ethics; 20. Individualism, Durkheim and the Dreyfus Affair; Conclusion; Appendix: On Paying a Debt to Society; Notes; References; Index

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