Emile Durkheim
    About Lesson

    Society And Individual Consciousness

    The nature that society has is unique to itself. It is not the same as a person’s particular nature. Society strives to achieve goals that are unique to it. Because of the need to participate in a group to survive, people are forced to disregard their individual concerns. Individuals are required to tolerate some degree of challenge or make a sacrifice to participate in social life. The sacrifice cannot be avoided. Therefore, individuals are forced to conform to the collectivity that society demands. For instance, people are compelled to subject themselves to the standards of behavior or conduct at every instant of their lives, even though they have neither created these rules nor wanted them. These standards of behavior might sometimes even run counter to a person’s natural inclinations and primary concerns. Despite this, people must respect and comply with others’ wishes. For example, one could desire to live a carefree life in which people don’t have to worry about things like jobs, school, or family obligations. However, society compels people to act responsibly and fulfill the many tasks placed on their shoulders. A person’s way of thinking, actions, and awareness may all be shaped by the particular realities of their society via this process.

    Individuals are subject to the moral authority that society imposes on them. Members of the community earn respectable adoration due to following this moral authority. Individuals are expected to respect the ideas, beliefs, and feelings, among other things, that society imposes upon them. Because such concepts, thoughts, and moral norms, among other things, are supported by the collectivity, an individual’s violation is likely to bring action or punishment from society. Therefore, anything that is beneficial for the well-being of society is revered and developed as if it were a sacred activity. Sacred items include religious doctrine, totemic symbols, modern flags, etc. They simultaneously make a person feel amazement and respect, which is a powerful combination. However, other items are considered profane, which contrasts sacred things. Items thought profane are not offered the same level of adoration as things deemed sacred. In addition, society maintains a separation between things considered profane and those considered sacred. Durkheim believed that objects should be considered sacred if they were protected and segregated by interdictions. Things are deemed profane when respect is not given to them and when people are urged to avoid them or maintain their distance. Last but not least, there will always be a set of standards governing how men should act concerning sacred objects.

    The demands of society are not limited to those made on individuals in terms of their efforts or sacrifices. It does not exert its influence on persons just from the outside. Individual awareness is necessary for the existence of society. Because of this, the driving power of society must also work its way into people and organize itself inside them. Because of this, it eventually becomes an inseparable component of individual consciousness. This is why people elevate and magnify society’s views, morality, and norms, among other things. It is impossible to determine where they came from or ascribe their origin to a single person. Instead, their continuation of them depends on the presence of groups. On the other hand, thoughts, beliefs, and feelings of this kind form an enduring component of an individual’s consciousness.

    There is the sacred realm of things. It is the product of the work of a collective. It brings together the individual consciences of people into one community. It instills love and respect and transmits society into individual people’s thoughts. It establishes a connection between people and something that extends beyond them. 

    On the other hand, there is a universe of things that are considered to be profane. It allows individuals to have their voices heard. In addition, it expresses all the things to which persons have direct relationships. It pertains to the typical activities that men engage in daily. It includes day-to-day concerns that are distinctively personal. In this sense, individual awareness receives from society a dualistic universe consisting of a sacred and a profane dimension.

    Sociology Plus