What is Social Fact?

The social fact are the real agents or together in ways that are at the heart of a society. This definition was formulated by the founder of sociology, Émile Durkheim (1858-1917).

Durkheim defines social fact as the social and cultural instruments that determine the ways of acting, thinking and feeling in an individual’s life. Thus, the social fact compels him to adapt to the rules of society.

Examples of social fact are social norms, values, conventions, and rules that exist independently of the will and existence of the individual, as Durkheim explains.

Durkheim’s central thesis points out that the social fact lies in the perception of the individual. This will be conditioned by social realities that impose the limits of behavior to be accepted by society.

Characteristics of the Social Fact

Social fact must meet three characteristics: generality, exteriority, and coercivity.


Generality occurs when social facts are collective rather than individual. Thus they reach the whole of society.


Exteriority is the characteristic of social facts that are external to the individual and that are already organized before he is born.


Coercivity is related to the power or force that the standards of culture of a given society are imposed on members.

This feature compels individuals to meet cultural and social standards that are not always in agreement, but which are conventions and exist whether or not the individual agrees with them.

Social Fact Examples

Social Fact Examples

School education is a social fact that is present in most societies and shapes the individual

Social facts are simple everyday behaviors such as bathing, paying taxes, going to social gatherings or shopping.

All these actions are organized and follow a routine, are respected and have real power over the individual. Social fact, according to Durkheim, affects the whole of society.

A classic example of social fact is education. It is present in the life of the individual and will affect him throughout his career, shaping his social behavior.

Durkheim defined the school and its influence in these terms:

“The individual can only act to the extent that he learns to know the context in which he is inserted, to know what are its origins and the conditions on which it depends. And can not know it without going to school, starting by observing the raw material which is represented there. “


The French Emile Durkheim is considered the father of sociology. He was born on April 15, 1858 and died on November 15, 1917 in Epinal. Their studies allowed the classification of sociology as science.

Born into a traditional Jewish family, with his father, grandfather and great-grandfather rabbis, Durkheim decided not to follow in the footsteps of religion.

He left the Jewish school, where he went very early, and showed interest in studying religion from an agnostic point of view.


Durkheim is considered the father of sociology

In 1879 Durkheim entered the École Normale Supérierure. Very early showed a scientific interest in sociology, but the field did not exist as a discipline.

He turned to psychology, philosophy and ethics and, from his studies, helped to reform the French education system.

His first work and one of the most important in sociology was published in 1893. In the ” Division of Labor in Society ” he introduces the concept of “anomie.”

It can be considered a reproduction of the influence of social rules on individuals in society as a whole.

Phrases about Social Fact

  • “It is a social fact any manner of acting, whether fixed or not, which is capable of exerting an external coercion upon the individual; or else it is general in the extent of a given society, having its own existence, independent of the individual manifestations it may have.”
  • “The construction of social being, largely done by education, is the assimilation by the individual of a series of norms and principles – whether moral, religious, ethical or behavioral – that guide the conduct of the individual in a group. rather than forming society, it is a product of it. “