Introducing Western Sociologists

Introducing Western Sociologists

Question

What is a social fact ?

Answer
Social Fact : A social fact is independent of the personal features of individual or universal attribution of human nature.

Exaplanation :

(a) A person eats, sleeps or reasons. This eating or sleeping or reasoning performed by the individual is an individual fact and not a social fact.

(b) However, there exists a group of phenomena which are not these individual facts. For example, language used by the members of community, the credit system or monetary system of a nation, the norms and practices of a profession do not depend on individual wills. None of these is a product of any individual mind acting in isolation or on its own. These are “a class of externally independent rules or customs which are clearly withdrawn from individual discretion.” The term “social” should be used for these phenomena only. In short we can say that the first feature of social facts is that they are external to individuals.

(c) The second major characteristics of social fact is that it exercises constraining influence on inviduals. Three distinct characteristics of social facts are :

1. They are general throughout society.

2. They are ‘external’ to individuals and exist independently of their will, and

3. They exercise external constrain over individuals.

(d) Social fact becomes evident in the power of external coercion, exercised by the existence of some sanction and by the resistance offered by society against individual efforts to violate them.

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