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Severing The Link To Nature: The Rise Of The Culture Concept In International Perspective

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Chapter Summary


Emile Durkheim famously noted in his Division of Labour in Society that solidarity- perhaps themost social of all phenomena-did not lend itself to being immediately observed or measured. Durkheim developed a stable concept of society as a thing belonging to an independent order of reality. This notion of society clearly begged further questions, however. Where should one locate this powerful entity that society was supposed to be? From where and how could it exert its effects? And according to which logic could society transform itself? This chapter addresses these questions through the consideration of a term that Durkheim used in his entire work, albeit a term never elevated to the rank of a central sociological category: the substratum. It explains how Durkheim understood this term and what role it played in his thinking.

Keywords:Emile Durkheim; social substratum


This chapter discusses the impact of the rise of the social on the political reflection concerning the collective will, decisions-making, and sovereignty. It explains the political use of the concept of society by conservative scholars. However, similar arguments can also be found in the work of social and political thinkers closer to the republican ideal. In order to demonstrate this, the chapter moves to a description of some aspects of the development of the theories of political authority during the Third Republic. The last section of the chapter discusses one of the most influential lawyers of the Third Republic, Adhemar Esmein (1848–1913), focusing especially on his treatise of constitutional law (1896), one of the standard treatments on this topic at the time.

Keywords:Adhemar Esmein; collective will; constitutional law; political processes; Rousseauian type; social cohesion




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