Summary: While Émile Durkheim is known as a founding father of sociology, much of his work has anthropological elements. Many of his theories are based on the assumption modern societies have more evolved and complex versions of the same social attributes that are also found, and more easily visible, in “primitive” or pre-modern societies. One of his most well-known examples comes from the ways many pre-modern societies used religion to differentiate the sacred and the profane. The profane is the routine and seemingly unimportant elements of everyday life whereas sacred things are both idealized or beyond reproach, and bond people together through a collective morality. But since religion plays a less central role in modern life, helping students identify what sacred things bond us together in our own modern society is difficult. However, in this clip from The Colbert Report, philosopher Sean Durrance Kelly explains how sacred aspects of modern societies still exist in places that often seem profane—like The Super Bowl.
Submitted By: Jason T. Eastman