Durkheim's Ambivalence towards Psychology and the Foundations of Sociology as a Discipline

Ignjatović, Suzana (2022) Durkheim's Ambivalence towards Psychology and the Foundations of Sociology as a Discipline. Sociologija, 64 (1). pp. 28-49. ISSN 0038-0318

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The paper explores Durkheim’s ambivalent position towards psychology, drawing on his debates with Comte, Tarde, and Wundt. In addressing this issue, we propose different types of anti-psychologism in sociology: epistemological (excluding psychological dimensions from sociological explanations), institutional (denying psychology the status of science), and strategic (establishing sociology as a scientific field). The analysis shows that Durkheim’s strategic anti-psychologism was more prominent and comprehensive than his epistemological anti-psychologism. Durkheim was against psychologism in sociology, but he incorporated psychological dimensions into his theory (cognitivism). He opted for a clear distinction between sociological and psychological fields, but he accepted psychology as an academic discipline (unlike Comte) and even incorporated some ideas from Wundt’s psychology. Durkheim’s position was determined by historical developments in the emerging social sciences. The competition between the neighbouring academic fields asked for ’distinction’. At the same time, shifting paradigms in psychology resulted in converging positions (Durkheim and Wundt). We argue that a common perception of Durkheim’s anti-psychologism has overshadowed his nuanced approach to psychological factors in his work. It has also determined the long-term ’fear of psychologism’ and a lack of relevant psychological perspective in sociology.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Durkheim, sociology, psychology, psychologism, anti-psychologism, Dirkem, sociologija, psihologija, psihologizam, antipsihologizam.
Institutional centre: Centre for sociological research and anthropological research
Depositing User: Vesna Jovanović
Date Deposited: 28 Mar 2022 18:33
Last Modified: 29 Mar 2022 18:08
URI: http://iriss.idn.org.rs/id/eprint/836

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