Finally, these "things" are pre-eminently social things, and Durkheim's method was thus exclusively sociological. The primary objection to such a provision, of course, was that such judgments of value have no place in science, whose sole purpose is to tell us how causes produce their effects, but not what ends we ought to pursue. "35 This "genetic" method, Durkheim argued, simultaneously yields both an analysis and a synthesis of the facts under study -- by showing us how each component element of the phenomenon was successively added to the other, it reveals them in their dissociated state; and by means of the broad field of comparison, the fundamental conditions on which the formation and association of these elements depend are determined. In other words, Durkheim was after an intermediate entity which would acknowledge the unity required by scientific generalization as well as the diversity inherent in the facts. Durkheim distinguished two types of social facts: normal social facts – which, within a society, occur regularly and most often – and pathological social facts – which are much less common. What degree of punishment? In so far as it ceases to be purely descriptive and attempts to explain social facts, therefore, comparative sociology is not a single branch of sociology, but is coextensive with the discipline itself. The suggestion that social facts are external to any particular individual, for example, raises few objections, though a concern for balanced statement might add (as Durkheim increasingly did) that they are also internal to particular individuals; but the suggestion that social facts are external to all individuals can be justified only in the limited sense that they have a prior temporal existence, and any extension beyond these limits is subject (as Durkheim frequently was) to charges of hypostatizing some metaphysical "group mind."42. This distinction is most obvious in cases like those treated in The Division of Labor -- e.g., customs, moral and legal rules, religious beliefs, etc. Durkheim's response was that there are always several means to the achievement of any end, and that the determination of the former is thus no less an act of will than that of the latter.8 Science, in short, must guide us in the determination of our highest goals. Where the two phenomena are produced artificially by the observer, we call this method experimentation; and where the artificial production of phenomena is impossible, we compare them as they have been produced naturally, a procedure called indirect experimentation, or the comparative method. Shared by whom? Durkheim was particularly concerned to distinguish social facts, which he sometimes described as "states of the collective mind," from the forms these states assumed when manifested through private, individual minds. The first two thinkers viewed the individual as "real" and society as artificial, the latter being imposed upon the former in order to secure certain collective advantages.30 Spencer, by contrast, viewed society as natural because it expressed certain tendencies of individual human nature, and thus its imposition by force represented an abnormal condition. Between sociology and psychology, therefore, there exists the same break in continuity as is found between biology and the physical or chemical sciences: "... every time a social phenomenon is directly explained by a psychological phenomenon," Durkheim thus concluded, "we may rest assured that the explanation is false. Indeed, the sense of this "specific nature of social reality" is so important to the sociologist, Durkheim argued, that a "purely sociological culture," an autonomous scientific discipline, is essential to its cultivation. Other articles where The Rules of Sociological Method is discussed: Émile Durkheim: Fame and the effect of the Dreyfus affair: …de la méthode sociologique (1895; The Rules of Sociological Method), brought Durkheim fame and influence. In particular, Durkheim thus endorsed the study of those aspects of social reality which had "crystallized" -- legal and moral rules, the facts of social structure, proverbs and aphorisms etc. To all three, Durkheim objected on the ground that they assume the cases compared either agree or differ on only one point, conditions difficult enough to achieve in physics, chemistry, and biology, but literally impossible in the study of phenomena as complex as those of sociology. ), but also extended to ways of being (e.g., the number, nature, and relation of the parts of a society, the size and geographical distribution of its population, the nature and extent of its communication networks, etc. As the first rule for the demonstration of sociological proof, therefore, Durkheim proposed: To the same effect there always corresponds the same cause.32. The sociologist could now confront the history of one society with another, to see if the same phenomenon evolves over time in response to the same conditions. 60-81.]. Download books for free. Durkheim's own theory, as we have seen, contains elements of both -- he agreed with Hobbes and Rousseau that constraint is an essential feature of social facts, and with Spencer that society is a part of nature. Three years later l'Année sociologique was born. Durkheim admitted that there are no "first causes" in science, and that a fact is "primary" only in the sense that it is general enough to explain many others. Even were this the case, Durkheim responded, we do not know a priori what these ideas are, for social phenomena are presented to us only "from the outside": thus, even if social facts ultimately do not have the essential features of things, we must begin our investigations as if they did. The book's meaning is still being debated by sociologists. The Rules of Sociological Method. Indeed, the seductive character of our praenotiones of society is even greater than were those of chemical or astronomical phenomena, for the simple reason that society is the product of human activity, and thus appears to be the expression of and even equivalent to the ideas we have of it. This was a problem not easily solved, and it was only after a tedious search that Durkheim's criterion was discovered in the ordinary distinction between that which is general and that which is exceptional. Durkheim suggests two central theses, without which sociology would not be a science: This book was one of the defining books for the new science of sociology. And this search for a "mere parallelism in values" through which two phenomena pass survived all of Durkheim's objections to the first four. But a second method -- i.e., collecting facts from several societies of the same social type -- makes available a more extensive field of comparison. NOTE ON SOURCE: These passages are from Durkheim’s Les Règles de la Méthode Sociologique, published in 1895 in Paris by Alcan Press. But the new society, Durkheim insisted, is not simply a continuation of the old; thus, the "revival" of religious traditionalism frequently observed at the outset of a society's history, for example, is the product of the special conditions of that early stage rather than evidence of the "transitoriness" of the religious decline found in the latter stages of its predecessor. Durkheim called this the inner environment of a society, and thus proposed still another rule: The primary origin of social processes of any importance must be sought in the constitution of the inner social environment.26 The arguments presented in support of this rule largely reproduce27 the discussion of "social volume" and "dynamic density" found in Book Two of The Division of Labor. For moral consciousness to evolve at all, therefore, individual creativity must be permitted. They must be studied from the outside, as external things, because it is in this guise that they present themselves to us[15], The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life,, Works about philosophy of social sciences, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, It must have a specific object of study. We are born into a family, granted a nationality, and given an education, without our choosing any of them; and it is these associations which in turn determine those more "voluntary" obligations in which we subsequently acquiesce. Emile Durkheim. Durkheim suggests two central theses, wi… Moreover, the inner social environment alone can account for the undeniable diversity and complexity of "useful" social facts without recourse to rather arbitrary and ad hoc causal hypotheses; and this again indicates the extent to which the constitution of qualitatively distinct social types is connected to their explanation by a variety of concomitant conditions.29, The rules thus established enabled Durkheim aptly to characterize his own conception of collective life by contrast with those of Hobbes and Rousseau, on the one hand, and Spencer, on the other.