The Development of Durkheim’s Social Realism

Drawing on the kind of historicist perspective encouraged by Quentin Skinner and Richard Rorty, this book explores the development of Durkheim’s social realism. Durkheim argued that social facts should be studied as real, concrete things but Professor Jones argues that his social realism was less a sociological method than a way of speaking and thinking about social phenomena through which Durkheim hoped to secure the allegiance of French citizens to the Third Republic. Professor Jones’s book, based on many years’ research in this area, takes advantage for the first time of newly discovered lecture notes from Durkheim’s philosophy class of 1883-4 and explores the significance of German social science in Durkheim’s thought. The Development of Durkheim’s Social Realism will be of immense value to graduate students and scholars in sociology, social theory, social and political philosophy and history of ideas.

• Uniquely written from a historical rather than a sociological perspective, it emphasises the moral and political aspects of Durkheim’s work • The first book to use recently discovered original material from Durkheim’s lecture notes • Provides the most detailed account of the influence of German social science in the development of Durkheim’s work


1. The reform that contained all other reforms; 2. The subtlety of things; 3. The perfection of personality; 4. A l’école des choses; 5. The yoke of necessity.


‘… reading pleasure not simply for historians, sociologists, and social theorists … in addition, for intellectual historians, sociologists of knowledge, and historians and philosophers of science and social science more generally … attractive for all who are interested in the more general intellectual history of nineteenth-century Europe … an invaluable resource for understanding the hopes and fears that Durkheim brought to his own work and the conventions of the discipline that he helped to found as an intellectual, moral and political response to the changing world around him.’ Journal of Modern History