Meaning of Social Facts

Social Facts

In The Rules of the Sociological Method , originally published in 1895, Émile Durkheim defined social facts as the object of sociology.

According to the author, social facts are those that would meet three simultaneous characteristics: coercivity, exteriority and generality

Types of social facts

Thus, social facts exert a degree of social coercion , that is, they lead individuals and groups to conform to social rules, with or without their conscious perception, which occurs even through the forces of sanction or punishment, in case of any kind of non-compliance.

At the same time, social facts are external : they have a previous and independent existence from individuals. For example, when we were born, a series of rules and socio-cultural elements already existed before us, such as language and habits at the table.

Finally, social facts must have a degree (which can be variable) of generality . A social fact is general and its action extends to a large group of individuals or even to the totality of a given society.

Example of social fact

A common example of a social fact is the education imposed on individuals ( coercivity ), which already has an existence as an institution prior to the members of society ( exteriority ) and is a phenomenon that occurs in the whole of society ( generality ).

Pressures are known, for example, directed at those who do not participate in formal schooling processes, both in institutional terms (government campaigns, laws) and in terms of the forms dispersed in daily life, such as ironies or aggressive terms towards people who “have not studied ”. This demonstrates, in terms of functionalism, the action of social facts in our lives.

Thus, social facts tend to relate to each other, forming an enormous social interaction that leads to the union of society. To this union, these bonds that linked individuals to each other, giving a certain social cohesion, Durkheim called solidarity .

It is based on the concept of solidarity that Durkheim distinguishes the existence of two types of society, traditional and modern .

Social Fact – Faith in God


Faith in God is common to many individuals, most of the world’s population believes in God as the Bible portrays him and his deeds.

This fact, if not the most common among all individuals in the world, is certainly one of the most common.
Faith in God is spread all over the planet, on all continents, everywhere there are people who believe in God.

The vast majority share common customs, such as celebrating holy holidays, not committing acts that are forbidden by God, attending mass, praying, reading the Bible, etc.


Faith in God is external, because everyone has the same way of seeing God, some may have special ways of seeing God, but he is always good, just, always helps those who need him.

This way of seeing God was already formed long before the individual was born, he is only influenced by society, which already believes in the good and just God.


There is great coercion in the question of faith in God, because since the individual is born his family already imposes him on God, there is a great pressure for him to follow that path, the individual cannot have his individual choice, because he has already been imposed on faith in God.

Coercion is usually imposed through fear, families impose faith in God on the individual and on themselves for fear of being disowned in the kingdom of heaven and having to spend the rest of eternity suffering in hell.

When someone decides to deviate from this path of faith and follow the path of reason, or any other path, he suffers social sanctions, he is discriminated against, he starts to be seen as a threat to morals and good habits, he starts to be seen as if he had committed a brutal crime.

Social Facts