1st Edition

The Political Durkheim Sociology, Socialism, Legacies

By Matt Dawson Copyright 2023

    This book presents Durkheim as an important political sociologist, inspired by and advocating socialism. Through a series of studies, it argues that Durkheim’s normative vision, which can be called libertarian socialism, shaped his sociological critique and search for alternatives. With attention to the value of this political sociology as a means of understanding our contemporary world, the author asks us to look again at Durkheim. While Durkheim’s legacy has often emphasised the supposed conservative elements and stability advocated in his thought, we can point to a different legacy, one of a radical sociology. In dialogue with the decolonial critique, this volume also asks ‘was Durkheim white?’ and in doing so shows how, as a Jew, he experienced significant racialisation in his lifetime. A new reading and a vital image of a ‘political Durkheim’, The Political Durkheim will appeal to scholars and students with interests in Durkheim, social theory and political sociology.

    Introduction: In Defence of the Political Durkheim

    Part 1: Socialism

    1. Durkheim’s Alternative: Curing the Malaise

    2. Individualism through Association: The Libertarian Socialism of Émile Durkheim and G.D.H. Cole

    3. ‘An Army of Civil Servants’: Max Weber and Émile Durkheim on Socialism

    Part 2: Politics

    4. The COVID Malaise: The Failed Mission of Justice, Pseudo-Democracy and a Politics of the Future after the Pandemic

    5. Social Solidarity, Penal Evolution and Probation (with Fergus McNeill)

    6. ‘An Apotheosis of Well-Being’: Durkheim on Austerity and Double-Dip Recessions

    Part 3: Legacies

    7. A Salute to the Exegetical Giddens: Durkheim Scholar

    8. Morality as Rebellion: Towards a Partial Reconciliation of Bauman and Durkheim

    10. The Elementary Forms of Sociological Knowledge: Durkheim in British Sociology Textbooks

    Postscript: Was Durkheim White? Anti-Semitism and the Dangers of Binary Racialised Readings of the Canon


    Matt Dawson is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Glasgow, UK, and the author of Social Theory for Alternative Societies and Late Modernity, Individualization and Socialism: An Associational Critique of Neoliberalism.