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date: 30 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article tracks key changes and continuities in Durkheim’s approach to the modern individual, beginning with the landscape of his thesis on the division of labor. A period of transition then helped to generate his increasing belief in the dynamics of creative effervescence, both as a foundation of an irreducibly social realm and as a way to tackle a modern crisis and get going processes of reform. He nonetheless never abandoned his commitment to the importance of social structures, as in his call for a web of new intermediate groups linking the individual with a wider society, or in his view of the division of labor as a source of modern ideals and route to combining autonomy and solidarity. He was also well aware that times of effervescent upsurge come with serious risks. Indeed, risk is built into the freedom and indeterminacy they entail.

Keywords: autonomy, commonwealth of persons, division of labor, effervescence, individual, justice, modern crisis, moral reform, solidarity, Emile Durkheim

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