Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Discuss the contribution of Emile Durkheim in sociological theory with reference to his theory of social facts

Emile Durkheim

Biographical Sketch :
He was born in a- town Apinal of France on April 15, 1858. He belonged to a Jewish family. He rejected religious education and was interested in scientific sociology. From 1882 to 1887, he gained knowledge of philosophy and then went to Germany where he studied scientific psychology and got PhD. degree from the
University of Bordeaux of France.
In 1902, he went to the famous university of Soborne of France where, in 1906, he was appointed professor of sociology.
His famous thesis are the following :
i. The Division of Labour in Society
ii. The Rules of Sociological Method
iii. The Elementary Forces of Religious Life
iv. The Study of Suicide.
Emile Durkheim proved his worth in the intellectual circles and died on November 15, 1917.

Sociological Theories of Emile Durkheim

Like other sociologists, Durkheim was also interested in how the big structure of the society affected the individuals. In this way, he succeeded in making structural functional theory. Conceptualism and their use made the focal point of his sociology. He says that “Sociology took its birth in the nineteenth century. Montesque devised rules of social science first of all, but these were completed by August Comte because first of all the credit goes to Comte for devising ways of positive science.” Emile Durkheim was the first person to introduce Sociology as a separate Subject and .to promote it because before it, sociology was thought a branch of philosophy. Durkheim differentiated sociology from philosophy on the basis of its being based on empirical research and gave a practical ability to the people to understand society. He did a lot for the progress of Sociology and his following theories about sociology are important:

1. Social Facts :
Durkheim says that distinctive subject-matter should be the study of social facts. The concept of social facts has social aims but the greatest of all was to prove it a separate subject from psychology. He says that social facts should be considered as things. and be studied empirically and not philosophically. Ideas are philosophic but things are not only mental activity but their concept should have stabilities of the mind.

He argues that social facts are external and coercive and for this Durkheim specified those for study. He divides social facts into two parts: material and non-material social facts.

Material social facts are more distinct. These are real material entities. He gives example that construction and law are material social facts whereas norms, values and general culture are non-material social facts which should not remain confined to mind. It should be external and coercive but these are different from
mental concern of psychology but sociology is interested in norms and values and social facts play an important part in sociology.

Durkheim states these social facts as :

A. Material Social Facts :
1. Society.

2. Structural components of society (Church, state).

3. Morphological components of society (population distribution).

B. Non-Material Social Facts :
1. Morality.

2. Collective. conscious.

3. Collective representation.

4. Social currents.

Durkheim's attention to social facts seems and to ’be of micro level. He finds society consisting of organs making the social structure with several functions. He says that functions can be isolated on the basis of structure and the reasons and functions thereof can be studied and can avail of the organs (social
facts) fully.


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