What is social fact emile

emile durkheim social facts pdf

Just as crudely formed concepts of natural phenomena necessarily precede scientific reflection upon them, and just as alchemy thus precedes chemistry and astrology precedes astronomy, so men have not awaited the advent of social science before framing ideas of law, morality, the family, the state, or society itself.

But the arguments which lead to this rule, Durkheim then added, apply equally to the function of a social fact -- while a social fact may have repercussions which serve the individual, this is not the immediate reason for its existence; on the contrary, its function consists in the production of socially useful effects.

Social Fact and Control Social fact is a technique of control. First, it is independent of all "doctrines," whether philosophical or practical.

Criticism of social facts

Before having any scientific idea about any social phenomena, one must develop commonsensical notions about these phenomena. Even here, the fact must be widely prevalent throughout the society while simultaneously varying from region to region; for otherwise, the comparison yields only two parallel curves, one expressing development of the fact under study and the other its hypothesized cause -- interesting, but hardly proof cf. The primary objection to such a provision, of course, was that such judgments of value have no place in science, whose sole purpose is to tell us how causes produce their effects, but not what ends we ought to pursue. Durkheim saw such facts as analogous to those "mixed" phenomena of nature studied by "combined" sciences such as biochemistry. Precisely because this method of verification presupposes the designation of a fact as normal by the criterion of generality, Durkheim insisted that it remained a secondary method which must not be substituted for the first cf. It was for these phenomena that Durkheim reserved the term social facts, i. Mill's "Method of Residues" suggested that we subtract from a phenomenon what is known already to be the effect of certain causes, the "residue" being the effect of the remaining antecedents; but here again, Durkheim objected to the assumption that a considerable number of causal laws are already known, and that the effects of all causes but one might thus be eliminated in a science so complex as sociology.

In this sense, externality means interior to individuals other than the individual subject. At the risk of repetition, Durkheim regarded such "explanations" as inadequate to that which was to be explained -- namely, a group of facts external to the individual which exercises a coercive power over him: "It is not from within himself that can come the external pressure which he undergoes; it is therefore not what is happening within himself which can explain it.

What is social fact emile

Monstrously free, if you like, to coin a phrase. Evaluation of the Theory of Emile Durkheim: Durkheim says that there is a difference in the states of mind of an individual and a group. Precisely because this method of verification presupposes the designation of a fact as normal by the criterion of generality, Durkheim insisted that it remained a secondary method which must not be substituted for the first cf. Because the essential trait of social facts is their external coercive power, Durkheim first suggested that they could be recognized by the existence of some predetermined legal sanction or, in the case of moral and religious beliefs, by their reaction to those forms of individual belief and action which they perceived as threatening. It is that superiority of which religion provided the earliest, symbolic representation, and science the later, more exact explanation. But doesn't this "inner environment" itself depend on other social causes, either inherent within the society itself, or involving interaction with other societies? As in The Division of Labor cf. Social facts may be material or nonmaterial: Material: technology, housing arrangements, population distribution, etc. This means that social facts are external to us, and they are acquired through society of coerced by it.

Even here, the fact must be widely prevalent throughout the society while simultaneously varying from region to region; for otherwise, the comparison yields only two parallel curves, one expressing development of the fact under study and the other its hypothesized cause -- interesting, but hardly proof cf.

Indeed, like the vestigial organs of its biological counterpart, a social fact sometimes exists without serving any vital need or desire whatsoever, either because it has never done so, or because its utility has passed while it persists from force of habit.

religion social fact

As far as Durkheim was concerned this was no different to the concept that human life is greater than the sum of the individual cells which make it up — society has a reality above that of the individuals who constitute it.

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Cultural Reader: Emile Durkheim / What is a Social Fact?