By Shaun Best
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Extra resources for A beginner's guide to social theory
Durkheim, E. (1915) The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, trans. J. Ward Swain. Allen & Unwin: London. Durkheim, E. (1933) The Division of Labour in Society, trans. G. Simpson. The Free Press: New York. Durkheim, E. (1952) Suicide: A Study in Sociology, trans. A. Spaulding and G. Simpson. Routledge & Kegan Paul: London. Durkheim, E. (1966) The Rules of Sociological Method, trans. A. H. Mueller. The Free Press: New York. Durkheim, E. (1973) Moral Education: A Study in the Theory and Application of the Sociology of Education, trans.
Durkheim gives the following example: if the Romans were to invade Jerusalem this might lead the Jews to commit suicide en masse at the prospect of having to lead a life on the basis of Roman Law but also wanting to lead their lives according to their own Hebrew Law (Durkheim, 1952: 288). In either case the result will be the same: a greater risk of suicide. 26 Functionalist Perspectives Durkheim's fourth type is fatalistic suicide: `It is the suicide deriving from excessive regulation, that of persons with futures pitilessly blocked and passions violently choked by oppressive discipline' (Durkheim, 1952: footnote, p.
His intention is to present a `general theory' of social systems. The social system includes all the things that sociologists are interested in; and in this sense Luhmann's systems theory is a universal sociological theory. A social system is autopoietic, in other words it has a self-referential quality. This means that the social system has the ability to establish `order' within itself and to differentiate itself from the environment. Social systems have an abstract functional nature and are non-psychic in character.
A beginner's guide to social theory by Shaun Best