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A Durkheim Fragment

Author(s): George Simpson

Source: The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 70, No. 5 (Mar., 1965), pp. 527-536
Published by: The University of Chicago Press
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American Journal of Sociology.
the americaniournalof sociology
Volume LXX Number 5 March 1965

A DurkheimFragment
George Simpson

In 1921 Marcel Mauss published from manuscript and with notes of his own the last lecture of a
course on the family which Emile Durkheim had given at the University of Bordeaux in 1892. This
article is an edited English translation, with an introduction by the American editor, of this historical
document-one of the earliest indications of the direction some of Durkheim's later work was to take
and an early contribution to the sociology of the family in its own right.

In preparing a book on lmile Durk- able by Durkheim on the sociology of the

heim containing an arrangement of selec- family as a specific topic and that Durk-
tions from his work in sociology with com- heim never got around to preparingfor pub-
mentaries and a short introduction,* I lication material that he had worked on
sought to include some piece of systematic relative to it.
thinking by him on the family. I could find I therefore gave up the idea of a sepa-
readily available only an article published rate section on the family in my book on
posthumouslyin Revue philosophique (XCI Durkheim, but not the thought of publish-
[January-June, 1921], 1-14). This article, ing this significant document saved for
prefaced by a short note by Marcel Mauss sociological posterity by Mauss. The trans-
and edited by him, consists of a lecture lation of this article hence resuscitates a
Durkheim had delivered at the University neglected document tucked away for nearly
of Bordeaux in 1892 at the end of a course a half-century in a French journal and
on the sociology of the family. This lecture accordingly lost sight of. The article is an
had been delivered from manuscript. But example of Durkheim's very early sociologi-
the manuscript as it came down to Mauss cal thinking and shows him to have been
was faulty in spots, and he added to the involved with ideas that were to mark
text from the notes he had taken as a stu- much of his later work in sociology. The
dent at that lecture. Mauss also appended term conjugal family-in recent years so
footnotes to the printed version to explain widely stressed as the accurate description
or expand, on the basis of Durkheim's of the present form-shows up here as one
general views, sentences and ideas which of long standing with Durkheim, predating
by themselves might appear abstruse. currentusage.
Mauss confirms in his preface, written In 1892, when he delivered this lecture
in 1921, that there is little publicly avail- on the conjugal family, Durkheim had not
* George Simpson, Emile Durkheim (New York: yet published his controversial dissertation
Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1963). at Paris on the division of labor. But the
emphasis in this lecture on comparative was publicized first in his preface to the
law and jurisprudence as indexes of the second edition of that work in 1902. Final-
state of social relationships at given times ly, Durkheim's view of society as the center
in given societies and of the direction in of morality appears in rudimentary form
which they were changing foreshadowshis in this article on the conjugal family.
extensive use of them in the Division of Three-quarters of a century ago Durk-
Labor in Society,t both to establish the heim's thinking must have been an eye-
types of solidarity he found in the evolu- opener to the students at the University of
tionary scheme and to propound a now Bordeaux. Durkheim was giving the first
widely recognized, ingenious criminological courses in sociology ever given in France,
theory. Furthermore, this article shows and the sophistication that subject requires
Durkheim to have mapped out the guide- and can arouse when learnedly pursued
lines of his later theory of the evolution of must have stood out boldly against the
individualrights and personal autonomy, in pretentious bourgeois backdrop of life un-
this case shown by the changes that had der the Third French Republic.
taken place in the modern conjugal family The translation presented here is a re-
as compared with earlier forms of the finement by me of one first roughed out by
family. Then, too, we discover that Durk- Miss Katharine 0. Parker at my request
heim's work on suicide was already under through the kind offices of Mr. John T.
way and that his ideas on the relation of Hawes of the Thomas Y. Crowell Com-
marriage and the family to the suicide pany and then gone over by Dr. Louis
rate were beginning to crystallize. Surpris- Lister. Material which appears in brackets
ingly, even his idea on the significance that was inserted by Marcel Mauss as French
occupational or professional groups were editor, and the numbered footnotes are
destined to have in future social organiza- also his. Mauss put his initials after each
tion shows up here, although generally it footnote but I have omitted them here.
has been assumed that this idea grew out of
his work on the division of labor and that it G. S.


This is the seventeenth and last lecture of his course on ethics. The war intervened.
of the course on the family that Durkheim Long before his death Durkheim had defi-
gave in 1892 at Bordeaux. It was delivered nitely given up the project-a project that
to us students on April 2 of that year. everyone who had taken this course wanted
For a long time Durkheim had intended him to complete. He suggested that we pub-
to publish the whole body of his researches lish only his work on ethics in the family.
on the family. Shortly before the war how- Durkheim's treatment of the family
ever, while undertaking the publication of could certainly not have been completed
his treatise on ethics, he wavered. He definitively without a great deal of work
thought of publishing only the substance concernedwith verification and elucidation.
contained in his course on ethics in the Knowledge of family law, especially family
family, which constitutes the second part law in primitive societies, has come a long
t Emile Durkheim,De la division du travail so- way since 1892.
cial (Paris, Felix Alcan, 1893) trans. by George But, seen again after more than a quarter
Simpson as Division of Labor in Society (New
York, Macmillan, 1933) and republished by The of a century, so much of the course is still
Free Press in 1948. so apt and profound that we consider it
our duty to allow the widest possible public in Anne'e sociologique, beginning with the
to derive benefit from it. first issue, under the heading "Family
This concluding lecture is quite short, Organization," for which Durkheim was
and Durkheim would no doubt have felt responsible until his death. These data
called upon to expand it. Considerable would easily help to support this conten-
data on the history of the family and of tion.
marriagein the Middle Ages may be found MARCEL MAUSS


I use this name for the family estab- as far as marriage goes-or as soon as the
lished in societies descended from the Ger- child, at whatever moment, is legitimately
manic peoples-that is, among the most married, all these relationships cease. The
civilized peoples of modern Europe. I shall child henceforth has his own personality,
describe its most essential characteristics his separate interests, and responsibility for
as they emerged through a long evolution himself. He can, to be sure, continue to live
to become fixed in our Civil Code. under the father's roof, but his presence
The conjugal family comes about as a there is only a material or purely moral
contraction of the paternal family.1 The fact; it no longer has any of the legal con-
latter included the father, the mother, and sequences that it had in the paternal
all generations descended from them ex- family.2 Cohabitation,moreover,very often
cepting daughters and their descendants. ceases even before the child reaches his
The conjugal family consists only of the civil majority. In any event, once the
husband, the wife, and minor and unmar- child is married he generally sets up his
ried children. Among the members of a own home. To be sure, he maintains ties
group thus constituted there are definite with his parents; he owes them support in
distinctive kinship relationshipswhich exist case of illness, and he has, inversely, a
only among them and within the limits to right to a certain portion of the family
which paternal aut-hority extends. The wealth for he cannot [in French law] be
father is responsible for supporting the totally disinherited. These are the only
child and for his upbringinguntil he attains legal obligations that have survived [from
majority. The child in turn is entirely under earlier family patterns] and the second
the father's authority; he controls neither seems destined to disappear. Nothing here
his person nor his wealth both of which resembles that state of perpetual depend-
are in his father's keeping. He has no civil ence that was the basis of the paternal
responsibility; that belongs to his father. family and of the patriarchal family. We
But when the child is of age to marry are now face to face with a new family
-for the civil majority of twenty-one years type. Since the only permanent elements
still leaves him under his father's tutelage in it are the husband and the wife, since
all the children sooner or later depart from
'The preceding lecture had dealt with the pa- the [paternal] homestead, I propose to call
ternal family. This was the name given by Durk-
heim to the family institutions of the Germanic this new family type the "conjugal
peoples, which he sharply distinguished from those family."
of the Roman patriarchal family. The principal The new element manifested in this
difference lay in the absolute and overwhelming family type with regard to internal organi-
concentration of power in Rome through the patria
potestas exercised by the paterfamilias. Character- zation is a shattering of the ancient family
istic of the paternal family were the rights of the communism such as never before encoun-
child, of the wife, and especially the rights of
relatives on the maternal side. 2 Collective responsibility, etc.
tered. Up to this time,3 indeed, communism cestral property as a consequence of the
remainedthe basis of all familial groupings restrictions on the willing of property.
with the possible exception of the patri- But what is even newer and more dis-
archal family. In this latter type, in effect, tinctive in this type of family is the ever
the position of ascendancy acquired by the growing intervention of the state in the
father4 had cut into the communistic internal life of the family. The state has
character of the family association. But indeed become a factor in family life. The
this character was far from disappearing state can intervene and punish the father
completely. Paternal power in this case if he oversteps certain limits. Through its
ultimately emanates from a transformation magistrates, the state presides over boards
of the old communism; it is communism of guardians; it takes the orphan minor
no longer based on the family itself [living] under its wing where there is no appointed
conjointly but on the person of the father guardian; it declares and sometimes peti-
alone. Accordingly, the family group there tions for injunctions against the adult. A
forms a whole whose units no longer have recent law even authorizes the court to
distinct individuality.5 But with the con- abrogate paternal power in certain cases.
jugal family things are no longer the same. But one fact, more than any other, shows
Each of the members of the conjugal how great is the transformationthe family
family is an individual with his own sphere has undergone in these circumstances. The
of action. However, because of his imma- conjugal family could not have sprung from
turity, the minor sphere of action is sub- the patriarchal family [or even from the
ordinated to that of the father. The child paternal family or from a mixture of the
may have his own material wealth, al- two types without the intervention of this
though it is controlled by the father until new factor, the state.]7 Up to now family
the child is eighteen years of age. Yet this ties could always be broken, either by the
control does not relieve the father of cer- relative. . . . who wished to quit his
tain obligations toward the child (see family or by the father on whom he de-
article 385, Civil Code). The minor may pended. The first case could occur in the
even possess certain goods that are free agnate family [and also] in the paternal
of such control-goods that he has acquired family.9 The second [case] could occur
through his own labor or that he has re- only in the patriarchal family. With the
ceived with the proviso that his parents conjugal family the ties of kinship have
may not make use of them (article 387, become completely indissoluble. The state
Civil Code). Finally, as regards personal in taking them under its protection has
relationships, the father's disciplinary
rights over the minor are severely limited. 8
In French law. But it should not be forgotten
All that remains of traditional communism, that in the first paragraph of this lecture Durk-
heim set himself the task of explaining particularly
along with the parents' right of usufruct the family as seen in the Civil Code of 1892.
over the property of the child under six- ' I have added these two phrases from old notes
teen years of age, is the rigidly circum- taken during this course and in accordance with
scribed right of the descendant" to an- the context. In the manuscript the sentence appears
only in the margin.
3 Until this type of family appeared. 8 Himself (?) Word illegible but of no signifi-
' Durkheim alludes here to the right of bequeath- cance.
ing property and to the right of sale.
9Durkheim here alludes to one of his earlier
5Durkheim had abundantly shown that the pa- lectures where he contrasted looseness in barbarian
triarchal family, particularly the Roman, involved laws with expulsion from the patriarchal family
the concentration in the person of the paterfamilias that in Greece and Rome broke asunder agnatic
of the rights of the old group of joint agnates. ties.
deprived individuals of the right to break the paternal family, collaterals unto the
them. sixth and seventh degree and sometimes
Such is the central zone of the modern even beyond still had very important
family.'0 But this central zone is sur- familial duties and rights. We noted ex-
rounded by secondary zones which com- amples of this fact last time.13 But their
plement it. These latter zones are-here role in the family henceforth is practically
as elsewhere"-nothing else but earlier nil. Scarcely anything remains but a con-
family types which have, so to speak, tingent right to inherit, which itself can
moved down a step. There is first the be nullified through the exercise of testa-
group formedby ancestorsand descendants: mentary power where there are no de-
grandfather, grandmother, father, mother, scendants or ancestors. For the first time
brothers and sisters, and the other an- there remains no trace of the clan. (The
cestors from the earlier paternal family specificity of the two secondary zones no
now relegated from the first rank to the longer seems to be as distinct as in earlier
second. In French law the group thus con- types.)'4
stituted has preserved a fairly distinct * ** * ** *
character. Thus where a man dies without Now that we are acquainted with the
descendants, his property is divided among latest family type that has been estab-
his parents and his brothers and sisters or lished, we can take a look at the ground
their descendants. Second, beyond the traversed and take stock of the results
paternal family one finds the cognate emerging from this long evolution.
family,12 that is, the totality of all the The law of contraction or progressive
collaterals other than those we have just emergence has been thoroughly verified.
mentioned but even more diminished and Invariably, we have seen emerging from
weaker than in the paternal family. In primitive groups increasingly restricted
0 The word "zone" is used by Durkheim to des- groups which tend to absorb family life
ignate fairly close circles of kinship; it forms completely.'5 Not only is the uniformity
part of his general nomenclature, made sufficiently
clear elsewhere. I Durkheim here refers to what he had said
" just as the to demonstrate the extension of kinship in the
phratry exists alongside the clan,
the clan alongside the uterine or masculine or uterine line: the facts of penal responsibility in
agnatic family, the agnatic family alongside the the case of Wergeld (Salic Law, chap. lxxxviii) the
patriarchal family, etc. facts of the repurchase of the widow's right to
remarry, by the new husband, from her uterine
In a preceding lecture, Durkheim, in analyz- nephew and, in the absence of any other degrees
ing the paternal Germanic family, had shown that, of relationship, even from the son of the maternal
for the first time in the history of family insti- cousin (Salic Law, chap. xliv); and other traces
tutions, both maternal and paternal descent had of the maternal family properly so-called.
been placed on the same footing. The paternal
14 This sentence is in parentheses in the text and
uncle and the maternal uncle, the uterine nephew
and the masculine nephew, have the same rights. may be skipped by those not familiar with Durk-
He said: "That is why I propose to call the col- heim's nomenclature and with the importance he
lateral family thus constituted the cognate family"; attached to the study of what he called the sec-
and he quoted: "'The Sippe,' says Heusler, 'is ab- ondary zones. In brief, Durkheim means that
solutely cognate. Thus kinfolk [translation of the whereas up to this point there are still, alongside
word Sippe]. [The French as printed here reads the restricted family, distinct traces of the con-
"Ainsi la parentele (traduction Latine du mot sanguine family and of the clan. In the modern
Sippe)," but the Latin really is "parentela" and conjugal family, on the contrary, there are no dis-
"parentele" is the French translation.-G. S.] in the tinct traces even of the cognate family, which is
Salic law refers to relatives descended from one now thought to be derived from the conjugal re-
or the other of the two sides, parentes tam de patre lationship, that is, from a single basic couple.
quam de matre (chapter 42) . . ., etc'" (Institu- 15Durkheim's whole theory, and particularly the
tionen des Deutschen Privatrechts,II, 172). Cf. proofs, cannot be summarized in a note: the steady
Ann6esociologique,VIII, 429. contraction of the politico-domestic group, the
of this evolution a resultant of what has village; to the urban environment with its
preceded it but it can be readily seen that dependent hinterland of villages succeed
it is tied in with the most fundamentalcon- nations comprisingdifferent cities; to small
ditions of historical development. A study nations such as the Germanicprincipalities
of the patriarchal family has clearly shown succeed the huge societies of the present
us that the family must of necessity con- day. Contacts between the different parts
tract in proportion to the expansion of of these societies are at the same time
the social environment in which each in- getting closer because of the growth and
dividual is directly immersed.'6 The more increasing rapidity of communications,
limited the social environment, the better etc.'7
it is situated to oppose individual diver- The constitution of the family is modi-
gences. It follows that the only divergences fied as its volume contracts. From this
that can make their appearance are those point of view, the great change produced
common to a sufficiently large number of is the progressive destruction of familial
individuals to produce a mass effect and communism. Communism originally en-
triumph over collective resistance. Under compasses all kinship relationships; all the
such circumstances only large family relatives live together and own property
groups can disengage themselves from po- in common. But as soon as a first dissocia-
litical society. On the other hand, as the tion appears in the original amorphous
social environment expands it makes pos- mass, as soon as the secondary zones ap-
sible greater play for private differences, pear, communism retracts exclusively into
and those which are common to a very the primary or central zone. When the
small number of people accordingly cease agnate family'8 emerges from the clan,
to be restrained and can develop and per- communism ceases to be the basis of the
sist. At the same time, moreover, in ac- clan; when the patriarchal family detaches
cordance with a general law already ob- itself from the agnate family, communism
served operating in biology, differences ceases to be the basis of the agnate family.
among individuals increase with the ex- Communism is finally, though gradually,
pansion of the environment. Now, if there cut down to the core of the primary circle
is one fact that dominates history, it is of kinship. The father in the patriarchal
that of the continuous expansion of the family is liberated from communism be-
social environment within which each one cause he can dispose of domestic property
of us is bound up. The city succeeds the freely and on his own. Communism is
more marked in the paternal family be-
transformation of the amorphous exogamous clan, cause it is an earlier family type'9; yet
a vast consanguineous group, to the differentiated
clan, to families properly so-called, whether uterine
members of the paternal family may
or masculine; then to the joint family of agnates; possess personal property though they can-
next to the patriarchal family, paternal and ma- not use it or administer it by themselves.
ternal; and next to the conjugal family. The domi-
nant theme of the history of family institutions I A conclusion is missing here (and also in my
is, according to Durkheim, the reduction in the course notes) but evidently it is "the family group
number of family members and the concentration may thus grow smaller, to an extreme limit."
of family ties. We may refer to his summary
' Durkheim here means the joint agnatic family
of Grosse, Formen der Familie (Annee sociologique,
I, 326 ff.). (the joint family of Sumner Maine, slavic Zadruga,
6 Durkheim here alludes to his deduction of the etc.).
patriarchal family, Roman and Chinese, which 1 In a preceding lecture Durkheim had demon-
he interpreted as a feudal concentration of agnatic strated that the paternal Germanic family does not
grouping under one family head. M. Granet in necessarily presuppose the joint agnatic family but
Polygynie sororale (1920), using excellent Chinese issued directly from the family characterized by
texts, has admirably thrown light on this fact. uterine descent and has kept many traces of it.
Finally, in the conjugal family there re- people who compose it. But we are at-
main only vestiges of communism; this tached to it also because we cannot do
development is linked with the very same without material things, and under the
causes as the preceding one. The same im- regime of familial communism it is the
pulses that led to the contraction of the family that possesses these things. With
family circle are responsible for the pro- the destruction of communism, things
gressive individuation of family members. eventually cease to cement family life.
The more extensive the social environment, Family solidarity becomes completely per-
the less restrictive, we repeat, the develop- sonal. We are attached to our family only
ment of private differences. Some of these because we are attached to the persons of
differences are unique to each individual, our father, our mother, our wife, our
to each member of the family, and they too children. Formerly it was entirely different
become continually more numerous and -the ties that rested on things were more
more significant as the field of social rela- important than those resting on people,
tions widens. Where these individual dif- the whole organization of the family was
ferences meet feeble resistance, they in- intended primarily to keep domestic goods
evitably develop broadly outside and are within the family, and all personal con-
sharpened and systematized. Since they siderations were, by comparison,secondary.
belong to the individual personality, that That is what tends to become of the
personality necessarily develops as a con- family. But if this is so, if things held
sequence. Each person takes on more of in common cease to be a factor in domestic
an individual physiognomy, a personal life, then the right of succession no longer
manner of feeling and thinking. Now, un- has any basis. The right of succession has,
der these conditions communism becomes in fact, become nothing more than family
more and more impossible since it presup- communism persisting under the regime
poses, on the contrary, identity-fusion of of private property. If communism is re-
all consciences into a single common, all- treating, then, disappearing from all the
embracing conscience. We can therefore zones of the family, how can this right
be certain that this displacement of com- be maintained? As a matter of fact it
munism that characterizes our family law has been regressing in a most consistent
not only is not a passing accident but will, fashion. Originally it appertains inde-
on the contrary, be increasingly accen- feasibly to all relatives, even the most dis-
tuated unless, through some unforeseeable tant collaterals. But soon there appears the
and practically inconceivable miracle, the right to bequeath property, which cripples
fundamental conditions that have domi- the right of succession as far as the secon-
nated social evolution from the beginning dary zones are concerned. The right of
should change. collaterals to the property of the deceased
Does family solidarity emerge weakened takes effect only if the deceased has put
or strengthened as a result of these no obstacles in the way, and the power
changes? It is very difficult to answer this which the individual possesses to set up
question. On the one hand, it is stronger, such obstacles increases continually. Fi-
since kinship ties are now indissoluble. nally, the right to bequeath property pene-
Yet, on the other hand, the obligations to trates even into the primary zone, into the
which kinship gives rise are less numerous group formed by parents and their chil-
and far-reaching. What is certain is that dren-the father can totally20 or partially
family solidarity has been transformed. disinherit his children. There can be no
Family solidarity depends on two factors:
'Here, according to my old course notes, Durk-
persons and things. We are attached to our heim indicated that Anglo-Saxon laws already
family because we are attached to the recognized this absolute right to bequeath property.
doubt that this trend is destined to con- personal worth that nevertheless bestow
tinue. By that I mean not only that the upon them superiority over others. This
right to bequeath property will become ab- injustice, which strikes us as increasingly
solute but that the day will come when the intolerable, is becoming increasingly ir-
individual will no more be permitted to reconcilable with the conditions for ex-
bequeath his property to his descendants, istence of our present-day societies. Every-
even by means of a will, than he has been thing thus serves to demonstrate that the
permitted [since the French Revolution] right of succession, even through the ve-
to bequeath them his offices and his status. hicle of a will, is destined to disappearstep
For the transmission of property by will by step.
is but the last, and the most tenuous, Yet, however necessary this transforma-
form of hereditary transmission. Today tion, it will be far from easy. The rule of
there are already assets of the highest hereditary transmission of goods un-
worth that can no longer be transmitted doubtedly has its roots in the old familial
in any hereditary way. [These are pre- communism which is disappearing. But
cisely] offices and status.2' A whole cate- in living practice we have become so ac-
gory of workers can no longer today trans- customed to this rule, it is so tightly bound
mit the fruits of their labor to their chil- up with all of our organized activities, that
dren; that is, those workers who earn if it were abolished without replacement
honor and fame but not wealth. It is cer- social life would itself dry up at its living
tain that this rule will be generalized source. In fact we are so geared and ac-
further and that hereditary transmission customed to it as to make the prospect of
will become increasingly delimited. transmitting the products of our labors
From yet another point of view, this through heredity the mainspring of our
change is becoming more and more essen- activities. If we pursued only personal
tial. So long as wealth is transmitted by ends, we would be much less strongly
heredity, there are rich and poor by birth. motivated to work, since our work has
The moral conditions of our social life are meaning only insofar as it serves some-
such that societies cannot be maintained thing beyond ourselves. The individual is
unless extrinsic inequalities among indi- not an adequate end for himself. When he
viduals are evened out. This statement takes himself as his end he falls into a
must not be taken to mean that all men state of moral misery which leads him to
ought to become equal. On the contrary, suicide.22 Our attachment to work lies in
intrinsic inequality will become more and its capacity to enrich the domestic patri-
more pronounced. But social inequalities mony, to add to the well-being of our
must come to reflect only differences in children. If this prospect were taken from
personal worth without that worth's be- us, a powerful moral stimulant would be
ing exaggerated or debased by some ex- removed in one fell swoop. Hence the prob-
ternal factor. Now, hereditary wealth is lem is not as simple as it might, at first
one of these extraneous factors. It renders glance, seem. In order to realize the ideal
to some advantages not derivative from we have just sketched, we must gradually
I According to my notes, Durkheim at this point
substitute something else for the main-
in this lecture added important considerations
spring that threatens to fail us. Something
on the outmoded character of literary, industrial, other than personal and domestic interest
and commercial property (copyrights and patents)
which fall in the public domain and which the pro- 22
By this time Durkheim had already given
prietor cannot transmit after a certain lapse of his first course on suicide. Here can be recognized
time. He returns to this subject at another point ideas he published in 1896 in his book on the
in this lecture. subject.
must stimulate us to work. But general communism was departing from domestic
social interest is too far removed from us, society, it was making its appearance in
too vaguely perceived, and too impersonal matrimonial society.23 Could not matri-
to become this effective motive. We must, monial society be destined to replace do-
then, be tied to some other group outside mestic society in the function spoken of
the family, more circumscribed than po- above, and could not conjugal love be the
litical society, nearer to us, and touching mainspring capable of producing the same
us more closely. Those very rights that the results as love of family?
family is itself no longer capable of exer- Not at all. Conjugal society by itself is
cising must accordingly be transferred to too ephemeral, its vistas are too restricted
this other group. for such results. To become attached to
What group can this be? Could it be our work we must be cognizant that it will
matrimonial society? We have observed survive us, that something from it will re-
the continuous, steady growth of this main after us, that it will be of service to
society, its consolidation and its ever those whom we love even after we have de-
greater coherence. The importance it as- parted. We possess this feeling as a mat-
sumes in the conjugal family marks the ter of course when we work for our family,
apogee of this development. Indeed, not since it continues to exist after us. But
only does marriage become well-nigh in- conjugal society, quite to the contrary, is
dissoluble in this family type, not only dissolved by death in each generation.
does monogamy there become nearly Spouses do not long survive each other.
perfect, but marriage itself now presents Consequently, one of them cannot be a
two new characteristics which evince the strong enough reason to make the other
strength it has amassed. sacrifice momentary pleasures. That is
First, it has completely left off being a why marriage does not have the same
personal contract and has become a public counteractive influence against suicide as
record. Marriage is contracted under the the family has.24
auspices of a [magistrate] of the state; Only one group is, accordingly, to be
not only does the ceremony have this pub- found that is close enough to the indi-
lic character but indeed the marriage itself vidual to hold him tightly and lasting
is not valid unless the public formalities enough to allow him a vast perspective.
demanded are precisely fulfilled. Now, as This group is the occupational or profes-
we know, no judicial act assumes such sional group. Only this group, in my view,
solemn forms unless it is laden with vast is able to perform the economic and moral
significance. functions which the family has become
Second, in addition to these external increasingly incapable of performing. In
conditions for marriage, the organization order to work out of our present state of
of matrimonial relationships presents a crisis, the termination of the rule of he-
special characteristic without parallel in reditary transmission is not enough. Men
the history of the family up to now. This must gradually become attached to their
characteristic is the presence of the rule occupational or professional life. Strong
of common property between spouses, a groups relative thereto must be developed.
community of property which may refer In the hearts of men, professional duty
to all goods or be restricted to acquisi- ' Durkheim here mentioned to us some rights
tions. Commonproperty is the general rule
of the surviving partner: the reservation of usu-
in matrimonial society. Though it can be fruct in French law and the right of succession
evaded, it exists in full right if there are ab intestat in Anglo-Saxon law.
no contravening conventions. Thus, while 2 See Durkheim's Suicide.
must take over the place formerly occupied [The] causes [for this fact are as fol-
by domestic duty. This moral level has lows:] Marriage establishes the family
already been attained by that elite we [and at the same time] springs from it.
have mentioned, which demonstrates that Any sexual union not contracted under
this transformation is not impracticable.25 matrimonial regulation is accordingly sub-
(This change, moreover, will not take versive of duty and of domestic bonds.
place in one fell swoop); [for a long time] Where, moreover, the state itself is a
a great many traces of traditional usage party to family life, free union undermines
will remain. Parents will always be im- public order. From another point of view,
pelled to work in order to feed and rear this result is inevitable. The members of
their families. But this motive will not every moral society have obligations toward
alone suffice)26 [to make the family dis- one another; and, when they attain a cer-
perse and disappear. The professional tain importance, these obligations assume
group, on the contrary, is by its very a juridical aspect. Free, unregulated union
nature perpetual]. is a conjugal society without such obliga-
A few words on the secondary effect tions. Hence it is an immoral society. And
upon marriage. Under the paternal family, that is why children reared in such en-
free, unregulated union coexisted along- vironments show so many moral defects-
side of marriage,but in the conjugal family they have not been exposed to a moral
such unregulated union is almost totally environment. A child cannot have a moral
repressed. [It no longer gives rise to any upbringing unless he lives in a society
rule of law.] The more tightly the family whose every member feels his obligations
is organized the more does marriage tend toward every other member. For outside
to be the exclusive basis of kinship. such a society there is no morality. Hence
25The manuscriptcontainsno trace of the devel-
[to the extent that the legislator and
opment given by Durkheim to this idea. Thanks ethics concern themselves with this prob-
to my notes, I can reconstructit approximately lem] the tendency is not to make a free
as follows: ["Civil servants,soldiers,scholarswho union of every marriage but to transform
render to the state a lifetime of poorly compen- every union, even a free union, into a
sated labor-can they look forwardto transmitting
property? Those authors, those artists, those marriage however imperfect.
scholars, those engineers, those inventors whose
work so soon falls into the public domain,whose Such are the general conclusions to be
literary, artistic, and industrial ownership is so
highly ephemeral-can they transmitto their chil- drawn from this course of lectures. The
dren the material fruits of their work? Why family has progressed through concentra-
do they work? Is not their work just as effective tion and personalization. The family un-
and even more effectivethan that of others? Thus
one may work without the sole objeetive of accu- dergoes steady contraction; at the same
mulatingan inheritancefor one's children"]. time, relations in it assume an exclusively
' Durkheimhimselfaddedthe parenthesesin the personal character in consequence of the
manuscript.In any event he had utteredtheseideas progressive obliteration of family commu-
to us and I was able to completethe last of them. nism. Whereas the family loses ground,
He undoubtedly intended to insert them in a
later version. [This footnote as printed in the marriage contrariwise becomes stronger.
article in French ends with a comma and without
Mauss'sinitials. G. S.] EMILE DURKHEIM