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Durkheim and Spencer

Peter A. Corning
The British Journal of Sociology
Vol. 33, No. 3 (Sep., 1982), pp. 359-382
DOI: 10.2307/589482
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/589482
Page Count: 24
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Durkheim and Spencer
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Abstract

A limited effort is made in this article to compare and contrast Durkheim and Spencer, with particular emphasis on their theories of societal evolution and their basic approaches to social science methodology. It is concluded that, while Durkheim's sociology was heavily influenced by the work of Spencer, it differs in certain basic respects. To the extent that subsequent generations of sociologists have embraced the 'paradigm' of Durkheim and rejected that of Spencer, the effect upon macro-level sociological theory has been highly constricting. Much can be gained from a study of the strengths and weaknesses of both theorists, and from a more balanced perspective.

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