Durkheim's The Rules of Sociological Method: Is It a Classic?

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Durkheim's The Rules of Sociological Method has never enjoyed the same reputation as his major books, in part because the book is uncongenial to standard interpretations of Durkheim. In particular, its attacks on teleology do not fit his reputation as a functionalist The papers in this special issue address the work historically. Both Porter and Stedman Jones deal with aspects of the context in which Durkheim worked and transformed. Schmaus and Nemedi deal with problems of interpreting Durkheim's development, and Platt discusses the reception of The Rules. The papers shed light on such important questions as the meaning of Durkheim's slogan “society is made of representations.” Durkheim, it appears, was not only what would now be called a constructionist, he went on to ask whether the fact that constructions are real in their consequences did not imply the reality causal reality of constructions and, therefore, a specific kind of “social realism.” The problem The Rules poses, of what is the fundamental stuff of society, is “classic” in significance, and Durkheim's answer is classically radical

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Sociological Perspectives, v. 38, issue 1, p. 1-13