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Morale, religion et société dans l’œuvre durkheimienne

Morality, Religiosity and Society in Durkheim’s Works
Robert N. Bellah


For Durkheim, "society" primarily refers to a symbolic reality, "morality" being an integral part of its essence. Apart from respect for authority, indispensable to any definition of morality, the newsecular definition of morality contains three basic components: discipline, attachment to a group and autonomy. From this point of view, "nation" has moral primacy. But two problems arise here: a) how to express a symbolic reality in rational terms, and b) how to instill warmth into these rational ideas. Durkheim comes close to providing solutions to these problems when he declares that it is the intensity of social relations which produces social ideals, that this new morality can best be instilled through the schools and that it is among workingclass people that it can most clearly be seen springing.
Durkheim was fascinated by the intensity of communal living among "primitive" peoples. This intensity alone is able to resource a society. Religious ritual is the scene where this collective effervescence takes place. Durkheim is not far from saying that religious symbolism has a creative function all its own.
Sociology to Durkheim plays the role of guide for the process of social thought. His work embraces a great vision of society.

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Archives de sciences sociales des religions, 1990, 69, pp. 9-25. Traduit de l’américain par Denis Benoît.

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Robert N. Bellah, « Morale, religion et société dans l’œuvre durkheimienne », Archives de sciences sociales des religions [En ligne], L’héritage des Formes, mis en ligne le 19 juillet 2011, consulté le 16 janvier 2019. URL :

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