Émile Durkheim between Gabriel Tarde and Arnold van Gennep: founding moments of sociology and anthropology

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    This article will situate Durkheim's work by revisiting two debates that influenced his attempt to define and give direction to sociology and anthropology: the debates between Durkheim and Gabriel Tarde and the debates between Durkheim and Arnold van Gennep. The battle between Tarde and Durkheim has in recent years been the object of several conferences and publications. This has happened alongside a much needed Tarde revival in sociology. However, Tarde was only one of Durkheim's opponents. For a long period, following Tarde's death in 1904, Arnold van Gennep represented the strongest critique of Durkheim's project. This ‘debate’ is little known among anthropologists and social scientists. The aim of this article is to situate Durkheim and the birth of the social sciences in France between both of these two figures. The aim is therefore also to bring together two disciplinary debates that for too long have been kept artificially separate in our understanding of Durkheim as ‘founding father’ of both anthropology and sociology. Arnold van Gennep and Gabriel Tarde opposed Durkheim independently from the perspectives of anthropology and sociology, but also from what can be reconstructed as a shared ‘philosophy’ of relevance still today. The article will discuss how so, and will highlight the convergences between the critiques of Durkheim offered by Tarde and van Gennep.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalSocial Anthropology
    Issue number3
    Pages (from-to)231-249
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2012


    • anthropological theory;

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