Historical Who is Who
1858 - 1917
One of the ‘founding fathers’ of sociology as an academic discipline, believing strongly that individual human identity is socially created as each person is inducted into a shared condition of collective consciousness. This is set out in relation both to modern society and Australian aboriginals.The direct impact of prevailing religious belief system on quite intimate human behaviour is illustrated in his study of Suicide in which its late 19th century incidence is directly correlated with the predominance of Protestants in northern Europe and Catholics in southern Europe. The former are more susceptible to lone- ranging individualism; the latter, as with Jews, to more continually sustaining social integration.This thesis of ‘social determinism’ might be invoked in respect of his own priorities as deriving from his own rabbinic family ancestry. Certainly the industry of his publishing output, and the priority given to public education and university service correspond with this. All were pursued, at least until his son’s death in the first year of World War 1, in a spirit of open optimism.