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date: 29 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article emphasizes the importance of the Dreyfus Affair in the manner in which Emile Durkheim approached the subject of anti-Semitism between 1897 and 1899, while the Affair was in full swing in France. Although Durkheim was the founder of positivist sociology, disconnected from preconceived notions, he nevertheless courageously entered the fight to defend Dreyfus, both as a scholar and as a Jew. In a series of articles and letters, he reflected on the causes of anti-Semitism and proposed an interpretation of Jews as scapegoats, because in his view society’s suffering was resolved by ostracizing Jews as pariahs. But this interpretation is unsatisfactory. Based on impressions rather than on a sociological analysis conducted in accordance with his Rules of Sociological Method, Durkheim’s analysis of explanatory variables is not convincing and is oriented around psychological considerations rarely seen elsewhere in his work.

Keywords: scapegoat, hate, intellectual, religion, Bordeaux, pariah, anomie, nationalism, anti-Semitism

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