How does Durkheim describe the distinction between the sacred and the profane

Sociology Homework
Assignment #6

Questions for Durkheim’s
(1912) Elementary Forms, PAGES:


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  1. How does Durkheim describe the distinction between the sacred and the profane? (Note that his use of the term sacred is not the same as in everyday speech)
  2. How does Durkheim define the term religion? How does he define the related term church? (Note here that his use of the term church is not the same as in everyday speech).
  3. Durkheim (1912) wrote that “The god of the clan, the totemic principle, must therefore be the clan itself, but transfigured and imagined in the physical form of the plant or animal species that serve as totems” (p. 154). What does this mean?
  4. According to Durkheim (1912), what are the two phases of life in Australian aboriginal societies? How does this relate to the origin of religion?
  5. Durkheim (1912) wrote that “There is something eternal in religion…that is destined to survive all the particular symbols in which religious thought has successively cloaked itself. No society can exist that does not feel the need at regular intervals to sustain and reaffirm the collective feelings and ideas that constitute its unity and its personality” (p. 322). What does this quote mean?
  6. What is the relationship between religion and science?
  7. How do the concepts we use and our fundamental categories of thought (space, time, etc.) come from society? In other words, how is social life a source of logical thought?

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