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Review: A Modest Companion to Durkheim

Reviewed Work: The Cambridge Companion to Durkheim by Jeffrey C. Alexander, Phillip Smith
Review by: Frank Pearce
Durkheimian Studies / Études Durkheimiennes
New Series, Vol. 12 (2006), pp. 149-160
Published by: Berghahn Books
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23867065
Page Count: 12
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A Modest Companion to Durkheim
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Abstract

This is an essay — along with another, by Raymond Boudon — on The Cambridge Companion to Durkheim (2005), edited by Jeffrey Alexander and Philip Smith. With becoming modesty, the editors admit that their argument for a 'cultural turn' in Durkheimian interpretation isn't universally accepted. Yet there is little sign, in their collection, of contributions that dispute their position. Certainly, some of the articles are interesting and stimulating, though others are modest in another sense, even quite flawed — as in some of their ideas about America. True, in his own article, Alexander makes a good enough case for a 'cultural turn'. But he seems unaware of Durkheim's last publication in his lifetime, 'The Politics of the Future' (1917). And in general, it is necessary to challenge 'culturalism'. This essay suggests an alternative, based not only on The Division of Labour, but the continuing relevance of Durkheim's belief in the need for socialism.

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