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Emile Durkheim and Talcott Parsons

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Religion is seen in many people's lives that can have an impact on what they choose to do in their life which may be bad or good. So, throughout the years one of the many problems that researchers have tried to understand is the relationship between religion and criminal or deviant behaviors. French sociologist Émile Durkheim (1897) was one of the first to consider this topic and what the relationship between the two. Another theorist that researched the relationship between religion and crime or deviant behaviors was American sociologist Talcott Parson. In all many researchers believe that religious involvement can create social networks and emotional support that will constrain criminal behavior. The behavior of individuals with higher levels of religiosity is thought to be guided by the sanctions derived from religion. According to this logic, religiosity can operate as a shield against negative behaviors such as crime and deviance by creating social bonds.

So, in this paper to first understand why the theorist believes what they did I will first be discussing Émile Durkheim and Talcott Parsons backgrounds, origins, early influences, and academic training. Then, I will analyze the methods that Émile Durkheim and Talcott Parsons used in their research of this problem. Lastly, I will be looking into the findings of my research on what Émile Durkheim and Talcott Parsons believe in the relationship between religion and crime or deviant behaviors. In doing so I will will be comparing the two theorists approaches to this problem.

To begin, Durkheim was and remains a fundamental and prominent figure for sociology and sociological theory. Émile Durkheim was a French academic sociologist (1858-1917) and he was born in Epinal, France. Growing up Durkheim was a Son of a rabbi and was from a long line of rabbis (Jewish) , and you can read at a very young age he decided to be a rabbi as well. In the article, Émile Durkheim by Angus Bancroft and Sioned Rogers they said, “He studied Hebrew, the Old Testament, and the Talmud, while at the same time following the regular course of instruction in secular schools” (Bancroft and Rogers, pg.1) Essentially, they are stating that he studied a lot of material in the religious field being a Rabbi himself. To go on, later in life Durkheim became a full time professor in 1913 after breaking off from family traditions he went to École normalize supérieure to study philosophy, then being appointed the chair of Science of Education and Sociology. In his lectures he taught on a number of subjects and published important essays. One of the essays of importance was his major works The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. During Durkheim's lifetime it is noted that he was very politically engaged, but did not speak out. To go more in depth with this, in the article Émile Durkheim by IEP they said, “he supported a number of socialist reforms, and had a number of important socialist friends, but never committed himself to the party. Despite his muted political engagement, he also hoped to use his sociology as a way to help a French society suffering under the strains of modernity, and during World War I he took up a position writing anti-German propaganda pamphlet” (IEP, pg.2). Basically, from this you can see that Émile through his life and near WW1 was into politics, but didn't personally speak his voice.

Now that you know ÉmileDurkheim's background, some of his academic training, and his orign, we can now look at Émile Durkheim's early influences. One of the influences made him analyze the ways of which different parts of society operate to create a functioning whole was inspired Herbert Spencer. However, you can see that Durkheim was very critical on the sociologist who studied this. In the article Émile Durkheim by IEP they stated, “Durkheim was critical of these attempts at sociology and felt that neither had sufficiently divorced their analyses from metaphysical assumptions. These were to be found particularly in what Durkheim considered Comte and Spencer unilinear models of social development, which were based on a priori laws of social evolution” (IEP, pg.2) IEP is emphasizing that Durkheim did not like how Comte and Spencer did not split up the metaphysical assumptions. From saying that Durkheim was critical on other socialist that helped him build his theories. Another early influence on Durkheim was several of the teachers at the École normale supérieure school. One professor who had a large impact on Durkheim was Charles Renouvier who had many ideas that would show up in Durkheim's thinking. To go off of that, through Durkheim's background experiences growing up will religion in his life is important to know because it might of influenced him to think a certain way with deal with the problem of if there a relationship between religion and criminal or deviant behaviors. Durkheim's background is also relevant to know for my problem because I know from his influences it Renouvier it made him think about different questions when studying his theories.

One to the next theorist, which is Talcott Parsons (1902-1979). Parsons was an American sociologist who was born in Colorado Springs. Growing up Parsons was the youngest of five children and his father was a minister, professor, and university presidents, while his mother was a progressive and suffragist. Saying that, his parents influenced him greatly with what he did in his life. After graduating high school, Talcott Parsons attended Amherst College, and went onto graduate school at the London School of Economics. Parsons also studied at the University of Heidelberg in Germany where he was heavily influenced by the work of Max Weber. Influenced by Weber, Parsons aimed to examine the “relations between economic and sociological theory.” Parsons emphasized Weber and Marx in his doctoral dissertation and he also introduced Weber to the English-speaking academic world by translating his book, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Also, in the book Talcott Parson’s Today by Javier Treviño its says, “ Parsons was initially an instructor of economics at Harvard University, where he was mentored by Pitirim Sorokin (1889–1968), then became an inaugural member of the sociology department. In 1945 Parsons established Harvard’s Department of Psychology and Social Relations, an interdisciplinary collaboration in the behavioral sciences and economics” (Trevino, pg.xix) From this you can see Treviñois trying to explain that Parson at first was not into sociology by after being influenced by a few people he became a theorist himself.

So, In Talcott Parsons life he had many influences throughout his life that helped him the sociological theorist that he became. One early influence that Talcott Parsons had in his life was Bronislaw Malinowski’s new functionalist social



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