Having established by observation that a fact is general, therefore, the sociologist must still reconstruct the conditions which determined this general fact and decide whether they still pertain or, on the contrary, have changed;11 in the first case the fact is "normal," while in the second, its normality is "merely apparent. Indeed, like the vestigial organs of its biological counterpart, a social fact sometimes exists without serving any vital need or desire whatsoever, either because it has never done so, or because its utility has passed while it persists from force of habit.19 Needs and desires may intervene to hasten or retard social development, but they cannot themselves create any social fact; and even their intervention is the effect of more fundamental social causes.20 Therefore when one undertakes to explain a social phenomenon, the efficient cause which produces it and the function21 it fulfills must be investigated separately. Durkheim thus set about classifying social types according to the same principle which had guided that activity in The Division of Labor, and eventually codified it in a rule: We shall begin by classifying societies according to the degree of organization they manifest, taking as a base the perfectly simple society or the single-segment society. In Book One of The Division of Labor, Durkheim had shown that "crime" consists of an action which offends strong, well-defined collective feelings. Committed by whom? [6], The Rules is seen as an important text in sociology and is a popular book on sociological theory courses. [2] They not only represent behaviour but also the rules that govern behaviour and give it meaning. But how is the presence of a social fact to be recognized? Pages 165-165. [4] Durkheim wrote, "The first and most fundamental rule is: Consider social facts as things. Pages 249-250. The whole, in other words, is something greater than the sum of its parts. The Rules of Sociological Method | Emile Durkheim; ed. At the risk of repetition, Durkheim regarded such "explanations" as inadequate to that which was to be explained -- namely, a group of facts external to the individual which exercises a coercive power over him: "It is not from within himself that can come the external pressure which he undergoes; it is therefore not what is happening within himself which can explain it. Finally, when the sociologist undertakes to investigate any order of social facts, he must strive to consider them from a viewpoint where they present themselves in isolation from their individual manifestations. ), 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. [12] Social facts have been not only accepted by, but have been adopted by society as rules to which they choose to follow. "36, When Durkheim came to summarize the principal characteristics of sociological method, he mentioned three in particular. PDF. As indicated in Book Three of The Division of Labor, however Durkheim felt that social facts exhibit both normal and pathological forms; and he now added that it was an important part of sociological method to provide rules for distinguishing between them. Front Matter. According to Durkheim, sociologists, without preconceptions and prejudices, must study social facts as real, objective phenomena. "45 In each instance, Durkheim discovered logical or empirical shortcomings; but if social facts thus cannot be completely explained by psychological facts, it is at least equally true that even the most determinedly "sociological" explanations necessarily rely upon certain assumptions, explicit or otherwise, about how individual human beings think, feel, and act in particular circumstances. Pages 29-49. 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. But where the exercise of social constraint is less direct, as in those forms of economic organization which give rise to anomie, their presence is more easily ascertained by their "generality combined with objectivity" -- i.e., by how widespread they are within the group, while also existing independently of any particular forms they might assume. Like his definition of social facts, Durkheim's rules for their explanation represent a laudable effort to establish sociology as a science independent of psychology; but here again, "psychology" seems to have meant several different things to Durkheim -- explanation in terms of "organico-psychic" factors like race and/or heredity; explanation by "individual and particular" rather than "social and general" conditions; and, most frequently, explanation in terms of "individual mental states or dispositions. 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. Summary – The rules of sociological method – Émile Durkheim Appendix: « The current state of sociological studies and France » Emile Durkheim made in this article published in 1895, an update on the status of the sociology of his time guidance of its mainstream, bringing additional light on the context in which work takes place.