Social Fact or fiction? Rules for observation of social fact Lecture 1- on Durkheim

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16 Oct 2011

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Emile Durkheim (1858-1917)
Born on april 15th at epinal in Lorraine
Mother was a merchants daughter; father was a rabbi
Spent early school years in a rabbinical school destined to follow the
footsteps of his father, grandfather and great grandfather
Tuned to social sciences; focussed on studies of kinship, crime, law,
religion and incest and socialism
It was rare that as a social scientist he was admittted into university
when he didnt even have as much experience
To have a social scientist come in and set the place on fire was
seemed to shake things up since it was a french university
195 set up the first european sociology department at the university
and in the same year published that text that were reading now
Established himself as authority
1896.Established another book . For resource for individuals that were
looking for another source of soiologist methods
Philosophers after Durkheim would amend some of his theories but his
work was teh one that framed others
Kinship group membership, religious affiliation, identity ....
1897. Book published on suicide . But looking at suicide in prodestant
and catheloic communities.
1912. Elementary forms of religious lives, where he compared
aboriginal and modest communities
All of his works showed the aspects of soceity working together
This is why some ppl will say that his method and his view of society is
got to be a form of socioological functionalist
Cont'd Slide
Influenced by Comte's positivism
Comte emphasised empirical facts and scientific laws
Durkheim agreed with comte in principle
oEmphasis on facts: scientific method; avoid abstraction
Comte's positivism claimed that scientific laws could be deducted from
emperical observations
Durkheim went beyond this to claim :sociology would not only discover
these laws by observing society/social organization, but in doing so would
discover the inherent nature of society.
oi.e. How society functions and how relationships 'work'
Precursor to functionalism
Certainly durkheim would have come along at a point that a lot of
philosophers would publicize whether or nto they do the things they do
That wasnt new to beable to engage in an analysis of these things
He introduced reject the analysis of nature
He wanted to argue that there was data there that could be measured
and classified .
Comte was looking at the collective of data, that was able to be found
in society and was doing something n
Durkheim agreed with that then went on to discover that sociologist
would not only discover these laws but in doing so would discover the
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enherent nature of society so they would figure out the cause and the
function and how society functions and how that relations work
oTrying to figure out what the nature of society is and trying to
figure out what the nature of society is.
Structural functionalism
Theoretical school in british social anthropology
A continuation of the durkheimian task of explaining the need for
stability/internal cohesion in society
Analyses teh hcomponents/relations in societies; mutual
Emphasis what social functions various elements of the social system
perform re:whole
Social institutions collectively form a social structure
Social functions can therefore be deduced by studying the structure
Mutual integration and a connection of relations and within that there
is something that relys on social facts to further perpetuate the social facts
Emphasis on the whole and how social functionlists relate to the whole
He said that the sum was greater then the parts. Which is why ppl wud
shy away from calling him a functionalism
These are differences between durkheim and the structural
Conncerened at looking at how the integrity of social structures are
kept thru the social relationships
Durkheim focused on social facts and the study of social facts as
evidence in society
Where as other contempoary theoriests focuses on the individuals
Why is it imp. Tht he studied the whole rather than the individual
Durkheim couldnt care less about psychology
Social Facts
Phenomena that have an existence in and of themselves; not bound to
actions of individuals
Social facts have sui generis
oEx. Independent existence greater/more objective than actions
of individuals
Exterior to the individual and yet exercies coercive power on
oEx. Formal laws/regulations or informal/community based rules,
rituals, normas and expectations
Social facts are not bound to the individual in anyway because the
individual can change them alittle, they have affects and power over the
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