Emile Durkheim
    About Lesson

    Definition of Collective Representations

    One of the most significant contributions that Émile Durkheim made to social theory was the formulation of the concept of “collective representations.” One may interpret the publications that Durkheim wrote after 1897 as a systematic analysis of “collective representations.” Durkheim is credited with coming up with one of the initial definitions that were put up for sociology. He said that “essentially social life is formed of representations” in his formulation.

    There is a difference between an object and the way it is viewed, the technique in which it is described, and the meaning that is considered to be linked with it by most people in a society. This is a distinction that has to be established. In this manner, the topic of the object is revisited in terms of meanings, and at the same time, meaning is ascribed to a word. As a result, the object or expression is said to be “represented.” As an example, the term “water” may be understood by a scientist to be equivalent to the chemical formula H2O.

    The states that an individual conscience might perceive are fundamentally different from the collective representations in the collective conscience. They express the method in which a particular group of persons conceives of itself regarding the factors that influence the social group. Collective representations are the result of socially interacting with one another; as a result, they make references to society and, in a sense, are concerned with society.

    Personal Statements  and Other Presentations

    Durkheim stressed the fact that communal representations exist independently from one another. He illustrated his idea by going into detail about various representations. The basic structures of individual representations may be compared to the brain cells that make up the body since they both make up the body. Additionally, they are the result of the combined efforts of the substratum to produce them. However, they cannot be characterized entirely using the component pieces that make up their substratum, nor can they be reduced to the sum of those components by themselves. Individual representations each have their own characteristics and a degree of autonomy that is relatively distinct from the underlying substratum. Additionally, the many different individual representations generated from a range of individuals can directly affect one another and combine according to their own whims and preferences. This is because of the interconnected nature of the representations.

    The Steps Involved in the Process of Creating Collective Representations

    In accordance with Durkheim’s theory, collective representations result from a substratum of people who are related to one another. On the other hand, it is impossible to reduce them to and totally characterize them using the qualities of the people who make up the group. They are referred to as “sui generis,” which signifies that they are their own creators and stand in a category all by themselves. The earliest and most fundamental forms of collective representations always leave behind observable traces of the places from where they originated. As a result, the nature of the substratum is intimately connected to the fundamental subject matter of any and all types of social consciousness. This substratum is produced by the number of social components, the kind of those components, the method in which those components are brought together and disseminated over a geographical area, and a variety of other factors.

    On the other hand, after the basic structure of the representations has been formed, the representations develop into relatively separate realities. After that, they continue living their lives with the potential to pull toward one another and push one another away simultaneously. In addition, they produce novel classes of collective representations and create various kinds of synthesis. Durkheim used the rapid spread of myths, legends, theological systems, and religious sects as examples. All of these things combine, differ, and go through transformations that result in the development of a complex group of beliefs, value systems, moral standards, etc., or concepts or categories of thought.

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