“When we wish to learn how society is divided up politically, in what its divisions consist and the degree of solidarity that exists between them, it is not through physical inspection and geographical observation that we may come to find this out; such divisions are we can study such political organization, because this law is what determines its nature, just as it determines our domestic and civic relationships. The organisation is no less a form of compulsion”.
According to Durkheim, social facts are ‘external constraints’ that exercise upon individuals, they are expectations that not coming from individuals themselves but that come from the broader social community which socializes its members. Although we might embrace the normative community behaviours and share its values, we are ...view middle of the document...
This essentially means that social facts are ways of controlling individual behaviours that take away individual rights of free choice in a legal sense. As what Durkheim explains, individual experiences social facts as carrying out duties that external to themselves, both in laws and in customs, social acts of being a family member, a friend, a citizen or even a religious believer, there are social facts constituted through behaviours and thoughts that attached to each role. Here, what Durkheim argues further, is that, one social fact for one particular society might be completely different from another society. The standard that differentiates one society from another is ‘the law’ it implements, just like he says, ‘because this law is what determines its nature, just as it determines our domestic and civic relationships’.
Question: Is this idea of ‘this law is what determines its nature, just as it determines our domestic and civic relationships’ still relevant in contemporary society? Can you think of any examples that best illustrates this idea?
Since Durkheim is known as a positivist, he approaches the society in an empirical sense, which means he looks at things that are directly observed and objectively measured. Therefore, in order to understand his positivist approach, it is important for us to think of some examples that can illustrate his idea, so that we can get a better understanding of it. Australia is a great example of showing how a society being politically divided has nothing to do with its geographical location. Although Australia is located within the Asia pacific region, it sees itself as a member of the western societies; it adopts western systems in areas of education, political system, economic mechanisms etc. it is not the physical setting that matters, but rather ‘the law’ it implements determines what a society or country is in political sense.