Definition of Social Facts
Social facts are things that happen outside of an individual but strongly affect the individuals concerned. Durkheim said that sociologists should look at social facts as if they were things and treat them as if they were real and had an objective existence outside each person’s subjectivity. Emile Durkheim refers to it as external, constraining societal patterns of experiencing, conceiving, and acting.
Psychological views of social cognition and society were criticized by Durkheim, who focused on social realities. Durkheim defined social facts as collective phenomena that constitute a separate sociology topic. Religions, political organizations, family systems, and legal codes are all examples of social institutions where such facts are found. Sociology, as a branch of the social sciences, places a particular emphasis on studying institutions.
Social phenomena should be viewed as things, according to Durkheim. According to Durkheim, if society didn’t exist as an empirical truth, sociology would not have any unique subject matter. Consequently, sociology and psychology are two separate tiers of analysis.
Durkheim examined suicide rates as quantifiable representations of historical, social facts in his work “Suicide.” He developed a hypothesis of four social causes of suicide and suggested that suicide rates were tied to various social situations.
According to Durkheim, these facts worked independently of an individual’s risk of suicide and constituted a level of social facts that could only be comprehended by a brand-new discipline called sociology. The facts analyzed include family and kinship, the division of work, spirituality and mysticism, and the categories of human cognition like time, location, and the individual.
According to Durkheim, social events that occurred historically earlier have to be the source of changes in social facts. He looked at how societies went from mechanical to organic solidarity in The Division of Labor in Society. Mechanical solidarity was centred on segmental groupings, typically extended family connections, and was founded on a strong collective awareness. The end consequence was a civilization built on the homogeneity of its social structures and individuals. Organic solidarity has its roots in the reciprocal interdependence of tasks in the division of labor, where the collective awareness weakened, and higher individuation of thinking and behavior emerged as a result.
Types of public facts in more or less formalized forms include norms and institutions. They are collective group activities that force themselves and get assimilated by the individual. They are moral since they are collectively developed, which limits individual behavior. Sociologists are interested in the difference between ideal representations and real social structures and activities, such as socially sanctioned standards and actual practice.
A social fact is a complicated concept having externality, constraints, and irreducibility characteristics. It is also interpreted in light of Emile Durkheim’s theories on collective conscience and representations. They are patterns of behavior that derive from authoritative, jointly developed norms and traditions, both religious and secular. Such facts refer to the universal moral principles and institutional arrangements that have the power to impose social order.
Material and non-material social facts are two different categories of social facts. Social structures and societal institutions are examples of material, social facts. The facts that lack a tangible existence are considered non-material social facts. They include elements like standards, ideals, and morality systems.
Social facts are also categorized as normal or abnormal. The normal ones are the most widely disseminated and practical social facts contributing to the upkeep of community and social life. Societal facts that are pathological are ones that we may link to different social problems and difficulties.
The statutes and laws are an example of a social fact since they are unrelated to any one person yet influence how that person behaves.