Apart from political and social conditions, Durkheim’s study was also inspired by some academic masters. August Comte, the founder of sociology, started sociology as an applied philosophy and an internal and immeasurable thinking process. He believed we could generalize social phenomena to laws like natural phenomena and so came up with positivism. Supplementing to this idea, Durkheim suggested sociology is an external study and a science of society. So, Durkheim was determined to study social facts empirically and statistically.
Durkheim’s major works were also influenced by Karl Heinrich Marx, the German philosopher. He proposed when there is a change in social condition, especially the economy, class struggle would follow. Working class would be exploited by capitalists and thus there would be alienation. While Marx looked at the negative side of division of labor, Durkheim revealed division of labor positively in which it produces interdependence and maintains social solidarity. Once there is a change in solidarity, individuals would lose their original identity and face anomie, which leads to suicide and crime.
Herbert Spencer discussed how individuals were connected to the society and invented the phrase “survival of the fittest”. He compared society to an organism and merged the idea of representation into his evolutionism within individuals. His functionalism explained how different classes in society function to maintain its health. Constructing on Spencer’s work, Durkheim confirmed that individual representations should be studied by psychologists whereas collective representations are in the field of sociology. The discussion of the relationship between individuals and society became his main focus and he referred many ideas to Spencer in The Division of Social Labor.
Wilhelm Wundt, the father of experimental psychology, advocated laboratory and comparative studies of customs and mores, which became the inspiration for Durkheim...