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Classical Sociological Theory

The sociological writings of two seminal European thinkers, Emile Durkheim and Sigmund Freud, are the focus of this course. Durkheim and Freud have provided different approaches to understanding religion, group psychology, leadership, racism, violence, social ideals, symbolism, community, war and peace and other major issues which have been of social scientific concern and interest over the course of the last century. Emile Durkheim, the first person to hold a chair in sociology in France and the founder of a school of thought which continues to influence the discipline today, published what was arguably his most important work, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, in 1912. In this book, Durkheim argues that religion is a particular symbolic expression of social life and that the sacred can only be understood as a form and an expression of the social. In this sense God can be seen as a personification and expression of society. In studying the totemic religious systems, Durkheim believed he could examine the pristine links among religion, morality and society without the contaminating complexities introduced by later religious beliefs and practices.

SOCIOL 3A03

Classical Sociological Theory

Unit(s): 3.0 Level(s): III Term(s): Fall Offered?: Yes

The sociological writings of two seminal European thinkers, Emile Durkheim and Sigmund Freud, are the focus of this course. Durkheim and Freud have provided different approaches to understanding religion, group psychology, leadership, racism, violence, social ideals, symbolism, community, war and peace and other major issues which have been of social scientific concern and interest over the course of the last century. Emile Durkheim, the first person to hold a chair in sociology in France and the founder of a school of thought which continues to influence the discipline today, published what was arguably his most important work, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, in 1912. In this book, Durkheim argues that religion is a particular symbolic expression of social life and that the sacred can only be understood as a form and an expression of the social. In this sense God can be seen as a personification and expression of society. In studying the totemic religious systems, Durkheim believed he could examine the pristine links among religion, morality and society without the contaminating complexities introduced by later religious beliefs and practices.


Cyril Levitt

Professor

Prerequisite(s): SOCIOL 2S06 and registration in Level III Honours Sociology with a C.A. of at least 5.5 or registration in Level IV of an Honours Sociology program