The Origin of the Durkheimian Sociology of Religion (1886-1899)

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Romulo LELIS, University of São Paulo, Brazil
The work analyzes the approach developed by Durkheim for the investigation of religion and religious phenomena between 1886 and 1899, a period which ranged from his first review of religion in Spencer’s work to the publication of the article on the definition of religious phenomena in the Année sociologique’s second volume. Contrary to most bibliography on the topic, we intend to uphold the unity of Durkheim’s approach to religion in this period, namely, that of the narrow parallel established between the religious and the moral in the different strata of his analysis. As we intend to demonstrate, even when Durkheim introduces relevant modifications, they do not go against his dominant ideas and are rather conceived as an improvement on the same approach. In this sense, when analyzing the texts of the period, we find that the theme of religion appears, initially, in a subordinate manner to the analysis of moral phenomena. Gradually, however, the religious becomes the focus of Durkheim’s analysis and culminates, in the foundation of the Année, with the emergence of a relatively autonomous sub-area, sociologie religieuse. In this light, the refinement of his approach to the religious is manifest, while being discrepant with the general view of his earlier writings. Thus, the years 1898 and 1899 mark, inextricably, both the apogee of his reflections on the religious and the prelude to a new research agenda.