Durkheimianism up against its contradictions : the 1935-1937 unemployment survey by the Institut Scientifique de Recherches Économiques et Sociales
Though historians of sociology have often cited the survey of unemployment conducted from 1935 to 1937 by the Institut Scientifique de Recherches Économiques et Sociales headed by Charles Rist, they have never analyzed that survey. In many respects –subject matter, theoretical protocol, implementation – this study seems a major landmark on the path between interwar Durkheimian sociology and the post-1945 refounding of the discipline. It is one of the few attempts to synthesize the objectivist approach of Durkheimian tradition and the kind of field work represented by the Le Play school, work which the survey designers sought to perfect. The synthesis failed, and the economic perspective dominates the survey. This paradoxical situation meant that the approach could not stand as a real model for the post-1945 generation of sociologists ; however, it did demonstrate the need to improve the direct survey method.