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Durkheim, Morality and Modernity: Collective Effervescence, Homo Duplex and the Sources of Moral Action

Chris Shilling and Philip A. Mellor
The British Journal of Sociology
Vol. 49, No. 2 (Jun., 1998), pp. 193-209
DOI: 10.2307/591309
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/591309
Page Count: 17
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Durkheim, Morality and Modernity: Collective Effervescence, Homo Duplex and the Sources of Moral Action
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Abstract

The issue of morality has lost its position of importance within the discipline, yet a growing number of sociologists interested in the ambivalent character of (post) modernity have returned to this subject in recent years. This article examines the revival of interest in morality and suggests it would benefit by engaging creatively with Durkheim's writings on homo duplex, collective effervescence, and the social construction of moral orders. After examining this relatively neglected part of Durkheim's work, developed most fully in his (1995 [1912]) The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, we focus on two of the most influential contemporary commentators on morality, Bauman and Giddens. Having evaluated the limitations of their respective approaches (which associate the sources of morality respectively with a methodologically individualistic bodily impulse of 'being for the other', and with an increasingly global cognitive reflexivity), we analyse recent writings which have attempted to transcend such difficulties by engaging with some of the tensions in Durkheim's account of sacred moral orders. These highlight those features of Durkheim's work which continue to offer a productive basis on which to develop further a thoroughly sociological appreciation of morality.

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