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Explore Durkheims contribution to sociological theory Emile Durkheim was born in France and is widely regarded as the founding father who put sociology on a professional footing in France in particular and paved the way for this professionalisation to occur across the rest of Europe He is now widely regarded as the father of the so-called Structural-Functionalist approach in sociology an approach developed by the North American sociologists Talcott Parsons and Roberts Merton Durkheim always perceived his objective as establishing the legitimacy of sociology as a science with its own protocols and domain To demonstrate that society can be analysed scientifically he wrote perhaps his best known work on suicide In this he seeks to demonstrate that even a highly individualistic act such as suicide has an important social context to it and that the field of sociology is the best for its interpretation Durkheims other important contribution to sociological theory was his work on social values and alienation and his Functionalist approach to social phenomena and the division of labour The work of Durkheim is now conventionally described as a Functionalist approach to society whereby society is seen as a unity of integrated working parts The functionalist believes that each part of the whole has a part to play in maintaining the continued existence of the whole or Society A functionalist can make an analogy with a machine in order to illustrate their point however Durkhiem uses the biological analogy equating complex modern societies with the human body This biological analogy allows a functionalist such as Durkheim to make explicit their holistic approach to the study of social phenomenon Society exists Sui Generis Society has a life of its own and beyond the existence of the individuals who inhabit that society Two further points are made using this analogy Firstly that the various parts of the organism known as society are to be considered par totalis of the whole This means
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