What does durkheim mean by social facts

what does durkheim mean by social facts

Emile Durkheim (1858Ч1917)

To say that social facts exist independent of all individuals is an absurd position that Durkheim does not advocate. Only on a methodological level, in order to study social facts from the outside as they present themselves to individuals, does the sociologist abstract social facts from the individual consciences in which they are present. Rules for the Explanation of Social Facts. The titles of the first two books of The Division of Labor, as well as most of the arguments within them, attest to Durkheim's aversion for any "teleological" confusion of the function of a social fact with its cause. 18 This aversion followed naturally from Durkheim's preemptive rule of sociological method; for once we recognize that social facts are.

For Marx, the analysis of social class, class structures and changes in those structures are key to understanding capitalism and other social systems or modes of production. In the Communist Manifesto Marx and Engels comment that. Bottomore, p. Analysis of class divisions and struggles is especially important in developing an understanding of the nature of capitalism.

For Marx, classes are defined and structured by the relations concerning i work and labour and ii ownership or possession of property and the means of production. These economic factors more fully govern social relationships in capitalism than they did in earlier societies. While what does it mean to love one another societies contained various strata or groupings which might be considered classes, these may have been strata or elites that were not based solely on economic factors Ч e.

Marx did not complete the manuscript that would have presented his overall view of social class. Many of his writings concern the class structures of capitalism, the relationship among classes the dynamics of class struggle, political power what does durkheim mean by social facts classes, and the development of a classless society, and from these a Marxian approach to class can be developed. Note that Hadden does not discuss class in any detail, although the class structure of capitalism is implicit in the labour theory of value and can be derived from this theory.

The main classes in capitalism are the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. However, other classes such as landlords, petty bourgeoisie, peasants, and lumpenproletariat also exist, but are not primary in terms of the dynamics of capitalism. The bourgeoisie or capitalists are the owners of capital, purchasing and exploiting labour power, using the surplus value from employment of this labour power to accumulate or expand their capital.

It is the ownership of capital and its use to exploit labour and expand capital are key here. Being wealthy is, in itself, not sufficient to make one a capitalist e. What is necessary is the active role of using this wealth to make it self-expansive through employment and exploitation of labour. Historically, the bourgeoisie began cities of medieval Europe, with the development of traders, merchants, craftspersons, industrialists, manufacturers and others whose economic survival and ability to increase wealth came from trade, commerce, or industry.

In order for each of these to expand their operations, they needed greater freedom to market products and expand economic activities.

In the struggle against the feudal authorities church and secular political authorities this class formed and took on a progressive role. That is, they helped undermine the old hierarchical and feudal order and create historical progress. For a segment of this class, wealth came by employing labour industrial capitalfor others it came through trade merchant capitalbanking and finance finance capitalor using land in a capitalist manner landed capital.

It was the industrial capitalists who employed labour to create capital that became the leading sector of the bourgeoisie, whose economic activities ultimately changed society. In Britain, this class became dominant politically and ideologically by the mid-nineteenth century. By employing workers, industrial capital created the surplus value that could take on the various forms such as profit, interest and rent.

The proletariat how to adjust dampers on furnace owners of labour power the ability to workand mere owners of labour power, with no other resources than the ability to work with their hands, bodies, and minds. Since these workers have no property, how to repave a driveway asphalt order to survive and obtain an income for themselves and how to maintain weight without counting calories families, they must find employment work for an employer.

This means working for a capitalist-employer in an exploitative social relationship. This exploitative work relationship recreates or reproduces itself continually. If the capitalist-employer is to make profits and accumulate capital, wages must be kept low. This means that the proletariat is exploited, with the surplus time above that required for creating subsistence worked by the worker creating surplus products.

While the worker produces, the products created by this labour are taken by the capitalist and sold Ч thus producing surplus value or profit for the capitalist but poverty for workers. This occurs each day of labour process, preventing workers from gaining ownership of property and recreating the conditions for further exploitation. The antagonistic and contradictory nature of this system is evident as capitalists attempting to reduce wages and make workers work more intensively, while workers have exactly the opposite set of interests.

Work and the labour process in the capitalist mode of production are organized so that workers remain propertyless members of the proletariat. The surplus products and value created by workers turns into capital, which is accumulated. Historically, the proletariat emerged as the aristocracy began to suffer financial difficulties in the later middle ages.

Many of those who were supported by working for the aristocracy lost their livelihood Ч the "disbanding of the feudal retainers and the dissolution of the monasteries. People who had subsisted on the land were denied the possibility of making a living on the land, and they become propertyless.

Population growth was also considerable, and in some areas forced labour slavery, indentured servants, poor, prison was used. While some people subsisted in rural industry and craft production, factory production began to undermine these as well in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Together these changes created a large class of landless and propertyless people who had no choice but to become members of the proletariat Ч many working in factories.

These people became free wage labourers, free from feudal ties and free from a source of livelihood. Today we still talk what does durkheim mean by social facts free labour markets and the dual meaning is much the same. While the relationship between workers and capitalists, or between labour and capital may appear to be no more than an economic relationship of equals meeting equals in the labour market, Marx shows how it is an exploitative social relationship.

Not only is it exploitative, it is contradictory, with the interests of the two partners in the relationship being directly opposed to each other.

Although at the same time, the two opposed interests are also partners in the sense that both capital and labour are required in production and an exploitative relationship means an exploiter and someone being exploited.

This relationship is further contradictory in that it is not just two sets of interests, but there is no resolution of the capital-labour contradiction within the organization of capitalism as a system. The contradictory relationship has class conflict built into it, and leads to periodic bursts of strikes, crises, political struggles, and ultimately to the overthrow of bourgeois rule by the proletariat.

Class conflict of this sort results in historical change and is the motive force in the history of capitalism. In addition to the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, Marx discussed a number of other classes. First, Marx mentions landowners or landlords as a class in Britain. While these were historically important, and many still retain their wealth even today e. In order to retain their wealth, some of these landowners were able to transform their wealth in land into landed capital. While this constituted a somewhat different form than industrial capital, this meant that the land was also used as capital, to accumulate.

Labour may not be directly employed by landowners, but the land is used as a means by which capital can be expanded. Petty Bourgeoisie and Middle Class. The lower middle class or the petty petite bourgeoisie the bourgeoisie was sometimes called the middle class in this eraconstitutes "the small manufacturer, the shopkeeper, the artisan, the peasant" Giddens and Held, p.

The characteristic of this class is that it does own some property, but not sufficient to have all work done by employees or workers. Members of this class must also work in order to survive, so they have a dual existence Ч as small scale property owners and as workers. Because of this dual role, members of this class have divided interests, usually what age do i stop paying child support to preserve private property and property rights, but with interests often opposed to those of the capitalist class.

This class is split internally as how to travel to usa from egypt, being geographically, industrially, and politically dispersed, so that it is difficult for it to act as a class.

Marx expected that this class would disappear as capitalism developed, with members moving into the bourgeoisie or into the working class, depending on whether or not they were successful. Many in this class have done this, but at the same time, this class seems to keep recreating itself in different forms.

Marx considers the petite bourgeoisie to be politically conservative or reactionary, preferring to return to an older order. This class has been considered by some Marxists to have been the base of fascism in the s and s. At other times, when it is acting in opposition to the interests of large capital, it may have a more radical or reformist bent to it anti-monopoly.

Note on the Middle Class. The issue of the middle class or classes appears to be a major issue within Marxian theory, one often addressed by later Marxists. Many Marxists attempt to show that the middle class is declining, and polarization of society into two classes is a strong tendency within capitalism. Marx's view was that the successful members of the middle class would become members of the bourgeoisie, while the unsuccessful would be forced into the proletariat.

In the last few years, many have argued that in North America, and perhaps on a world scale, there is an increasing gap between rich and poor and there is a declining middle. While there have been tendencies in this direction, especially among the farmers and peasantry, there has been no clear long run trend toward decline of the middle class. At the same time as there has been polarization of classes, there have been new middle groupings created. Some of these are small business people, shopkeepers, and small producers while others are professional and managerial personnel, and some intellectual personnel.

Well paid working class members and independent trades people might how to tell if your parents hate you themselves to be members of the middle class. Some segments of this grouping have expanded in number in recent years. While it is not clear that these groups hold together and constitute a class in any Marxian sense of being combined in how long to bbq beef back ribs to other classes, they do form a middle grouping.

Since Marx's prediction has not come true, sociologists and other writers have devoted much attention to explaining this middle grouping Ч what is its basis, what are the causes of its stability or growth, how it fits into the class structure, and what are the effects of its existence on proletariat and bourgeoisie.

Marx also mentions the "dangerous class" or the social scum. Among the members of this group are "ruined and adventurous offshoots of the bourgeoisie, vagabonds, discharged soldiers, discharged jailbirds.

This is the lumpenproletariat. He does not consider this group to be of any importance in terms of potential for creating socialism, if anything they may be considered to have a conservative influence. Other writers and how to caulk bathroom tile have considered them to have some revolutionary potential. One of the main reasons for mentioning them is how to get rid of a minor in possession emphasize how capitalism uses, misuses and discards people, not treating them as humans.

Today's representative of this class of lumpenproletariat are the homeless and the underclass. Peasantry and Farmers. Marx considered the peasantry to be disorganized, dispersed, and incapable of carrying out change. Marx also expected that this class would tend to disappear, with most becoming displaced from the land and joining the proletariat.

The more successful might become landowners or capitalist farmers. With respect to family farmers as a group, much the same could be said. However, Marx was not really very familiar with these as a group, and had little to say about these.

The various analyses of the role of farmers in how to unblock someone on windows live messenger Prairies constitute a more adequate view of what may be expected from this group. They could be considered to form a class when they act together as a group.

In the early days of Prairie settlement, farms were of similar size, farmers had generally similar interests, and the farm population acted together to create the cooperative movement and the Wheat Board.

More recently, Prairie farmers are often considered to be split into different groups or strata, dependent on type of farming, size of farm, and whether or not they employ labour. Farmers have not been able to act together as a class in political and economic actions in recent years. Lobbying by some farm groups have been successful, but these do not usually represent farmers as a whole. Group Basis. For Marx, classes cannot be defined by beginning observation and analysis from individuals, and building a definition of a social class as an aggregate of individuals with particular characteristics.

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Social Causes and Social Types. Durkheim's argument so far is a perfect example of his characteristic "argument by elimination" -- the systematic rejection of alternative explanations of a given phenomenon in order to lend authority to the "sole remaining" candidate. 12 He thus claimed to have shown that, for each social group, there is a specific tendency to suicide that can be explained. Emile Durkheim developed theories of social structure that included functionalism, the division of labor, and anomie. These theories were founded on the concept of social facts, or societal norms. In fact, as Katz () observes, we can achieve extensional adequacy without any knowledge of the psychological facts, since there is always an infinite number of possible psychological procedures which could produce the same set of linguistic facts. This doesn't mean that linguists can't look for the psychological facts, but it does mean that.

Please contact mpub-help umich. For more information, read Michigan Publishing's access and usage policy. Linguists and philosophers of language have long disagreed about the ontology of language, and thus about the proper subject matter of their disciplines.

A close examination of the leading arguments in the debates shows that while positive arguments that language is x tend to be sound, negative arguments that language is not x generally fail. This implies that we should be pluralists about the metaphysical status of language and the subject matter of linguistics and the philosophy of language. A pluralist ontology of language, however, involves pitfalls for research on language, and to avoid this pitfalls researchers should temper the pluralist attitude with two strictures.

First, pluralism about the ontology of language precludes agnosticism about the ontology of language. Second, pluralism should not lead to isolated research programs.

For the purpose of the scientific and philosophical study of language, the question "What is language? To answer the question "What is the ontology of language? Chief among these roles is that it picks out the object of study. Language, the scientific concept, is thus descriptively whatever it is that linguists take as their primary object of study, and normatively whatever it is they should be studying. Regarding the descriptive question, I will argue that the object of linguistic study is multifaceted, comprising three separate but related types of entities.

Many linguists take as their primary objects of study mental structures relating to language. The particular set of structures differsЧa generative syntactician might take herself to only be studying language- or even syntax- specific structures, while many psycholinguists are happy to study any mental activity involved in linguistic processingЧbut everyone in this category takes their object of study to be psychological.

Other linguists, especially those with ties to the social sciences, take their object of study to be primarily a social entity of some sort. Finally, some linguists take themselves to be studying abstract patterns evident in linguistic communication, with an ontology analogous to the metaphysics of mathematical entities. So in answer to the descriptive question "What is language? To answer the normative question, we look to see if there are reasons to favor one of these targets of inquiry over another.

The most compelling reason to give up on one of the three facets of language would be to show that it either doesn't actually exist or that it is unsuitable for scientific study, and several philosophers of linguistics have tried to make just such a case. Partisans of each ontology also appeal to answers to the descriptive question to answer the normative one, since extant scientific practice constrains to some extent which ontologies are legitimate.

I'll review the most significant arguments of this sort, and give reason to reject them. Although this analysis of the ontology of language preserves the extant diversity within the linguistic sciences, it does have some ramifications for the practice of linguistics. In particular, it tells against a tendency towards sub-disciplinary parochialism that is fueled in part by non-plural conceptions of the proper subject matter of linguistics.

I'll also show how the fact of plurality requires making explicit the target of any particular work in linguistics. Agnosticism about the ontology of language should be avoided because the relation between hypothesis and evidence is shaped by the scientist's conception of her subject matter, and it follows that confirmation and theory choice can depend on which particular variety of 'language' a researcher is studying.

Debates over the proper subject matter of linguistics and correct ontology of language tend to come back to the same small set of issues, and by identifying these we can pick out the key criteria for a valid conception of language. Philosophers and linguists making a case that language is x generally attempt to demonstrate three things:. Additionally, most attempt to show that competing ontologies of language fail to satisfy one or more of these criteria.

Before moving on, then, let's take a closer look at each. None of the advocates of the chief candidates for the ontology of language take language to be equivalent to the primary data gathered by linguists.

Linguists, in the first place, study artifacts such as patterns of vibration in the air, symbols on a page, or reports of introspective judgments. Few these days argue that language merely is these artifacts. Arguments that a preferred conception of language satisfies 1 , then, typically appeal to an inference to the best explanation for observed patterns among these artifacts. According to the argument, x must exist because x is a theoretical posit licensed by the explanatory role it plays in our best theories explaining the primary data.

Similarly, partisans of all three camps sometimes argue that their ontology uniquely satisfies 2. For each of the types of ontology it isn't difficult to find linguists who hold it to be what they study. So non-pluralists must, and do, argue that to identify the primary object of study of linguistics we can't look to linguists' meta-theoretical reflections, but must instead infer it from their practice.

Valid application of 2 , however, takes more than an impressionistic sense about what occurs in day-to-day linguistic work. I propose the following heuristic to determine what counts as a primary object of study in linguistic practice: if x is the common link between otherwise disparate objects of study, x is a good candidate for the primary object of study.

Suppose, for instance, that a linguist makes use of both data about subjects' eye movements and reaction times in a lab, as well as her own intuitions about semantic facts. Her intuitions and her subjects' eye movements have no direct connection, but both bear directly on language processing. Language processing is thus a good candidate for her primary object of study. This heuristic will allow us to assess arguments about whether a particular ontology satisfies 2. The issue is not so much that we need to hew closely to some prescriptively correct use of the term 'language,' but that only constrained disagreement about subject matter is possible within a research community.

A particular scientist could come up with an idiosyncratic ontology which satisfies 1 and perhaps 2. His work would have little to say to nearly all other linguists, and theirs would have little ramification for his. So to reasonably call an object 'language' in a scientific context, it must have at least some significant connection to what the community of linguists is already engaged in studying.

This does not preclude novel uses of the word 'language' or novel conceptions of the ontology of language, but it does constrain which novelties are acceptable. Having these criteria in hand allows us to situate the various arguments for each ontology of language. Most such arguments will seek to establish that a particular account of a language satisfies all three, but its competitors do not.

We'll begin with the most-discussed type of linguistic ontology, treating language as a component of individual minds. The most influential advocate of language as a psychological entity is Chomsky, whose argument begins by establishing the same approach to metaphysics that we have adopted here. He argues that since the time of Descartes, it has been a common practice in philosophy to take the validity of the natural sciences as a fixed point, and metaphysics has reshaped itself around this fixed point Chomsky Does the language faculty include every physiological contributor to linguistic activity, including not just many parts of the brain but also parts of the vocal tract, etc.?

Does the language faculty refer to the idiolect of speaker, meaning her unique, individual lexicon and grammar? Or should we take I-language to be more specifically the innate, universal biological endowment shared by speakers of different idiolects?

Chomsky's own position is that language should be understood in the latter way, that is, as Universal Grammar, which consists of some minimal computational principles Chomsky We need not follow him to such extremes, however, to accept the validity of a psychological account of the ontology of language. The cognitive sources of linguistic behavior exist and they seem to be a primary object of study for many linguists both within and without the Chomskian research program e.

Dissension often focuses on the third criterion. If this were the extent of the critique, it would have little bite. True, the technical definition of 'language' for Chomsky and his allies has little enough to do with the lay understanding of language or linguistics, but experts have been using the term in Chomsky's sense for half a century now, so we can't say it's unreasonable to call it 'language'.

But Devitt and Sterelny's critique has more force than mere appeal to folk conceptions, since it is also meant to target our second criterion. Linguists themselves, they argue, are in practice much nearer to Grandma's View than Chomsky's, in that something like Grandma's View is the actual primary object of linguistics, despite what linguists may claim in their meta-theoretical reflections.

Devitt draws out this point clearly by an analogy. Suppose we want to study horseshoes. We could gather samples of horseshoes and analyze them, or we could instead try to examine the psychological processes internal to the blacksmith when she creates horseshoes. Even if for some reason we did decide to approach the subject by looking at the blacksmith rather than the horseshoes themselves, we wouldn't think that her mental representations were the real horseshoes, and the shaped metal bars only objects of peripheral interest.

Recall our rule of thumb for how to determine a primary object of study: if x is the common link between otherwise disparate objects of study, x is a good candidate for primary object of study. If you look at all the things involved in horseshoe-ology, you'd find not only the study of the blacksmith's expertise, but also study of the various uses horseshoes are put to throwing implements in games, fashion accessories for horses, etc.

The common thread uniting all these objects of study is not the cognitive blueprint for horseshoes in the blacksmith's head, but the external, U-shaped bars of iron. So by our rule of thumb, the cognitive apparatus can't be the primary object of horseshoe-ology. The physical horseshoes, obviously, correspond to Grandma's View of language, and the blacksmith's cognition to Chomsky's. Devitt's key point is not that to call the blacksmith's mental representations 'horseshoes' is intuitively silly, but that it doesn't correspond to what scientists would actually do.

When we look at what linguists actually study, the common thread seems to be the external symbols used for communication. So Devitt argues that the psychological ontology of language not only fails the third criterion, but also falls short of the second, since it's not the primary object of study even for linguists who say that it is.

Devitt's arguments give us good reason to think that something like Grandma's View must be right as an ontology of language, but they don't suffice to disqualify the psychological ontology [3]. He's right that much of linguistics is concerned with external symbols, but Chomsky's claim that the analysis of those external symbols and the acts of producing themЧof performance , to use the technical term favored by generative linguistsЧcan just be a method at understanding the underlying psychological phenomena is legitimate.

After all, psychologists frequently use external measures to study internal psychological phenomena. If psychology consisted only of introspection and brain scans, we would have very little in the way of good psychological theory. When the psychologist asks a subject to adjust a patch of color until it matches another, he's studying visual cognition, not patches of color.

When physicists observed tracks in cloud chambers, their primary object of study was subatomic particles, even though their data came in the first place from patterns of vapor. Along the same lines, Chomsky and his adherents seem to be justified in claiming that their primary object of study is a theoretical postulate which is observed only indirectly. Note the clear disanalogy with the horseshoe example: the varieties of data used by the psychologically-oriented linguist really are held together by the common thread of having a connection to the mechanisms of linguistic cognition.

To argue that the psychological ontology of language can't actually be the primary object of study, then, requires more than a claim that linguists often gather data that aren't psychological entities. We would have to show that those data do not serve as useful evidence for the psychological entities linguists often purport to study. Katz makes just such a case. He argues that the grammars produced by linguists accurately model performance, but there is little evidence that it captures the actual cognitive processes underlying linguistic behavior.

This is in part because any particular pattern in performance could be produced by an infinite number of possible underlying cognitive systems, so we can't infer that the language faculty works in any particular way just from the primary data. It's difficult to come up with a straightforward rejoinder to Katz' argument, because it's no more than a special case of the thorny problem of underdetermination of theory by evidence.

But this fact allows us an oblique response: while it's true that the primary data of linguistics are consistent with an infinite number of psychological grammars, this places psychologically-oriented linguistic theory in the same boat as all scientific theories, including those committed to different ontologies of language. So the issue Katz raises is one worth exploring, [4] but the underdetermination of theory by evidence gives us no grounds to favor one subject matter of linguistics at the expense of the others.

Thus far we have seen how attempts to reject the claim that language is a mental entity on the basis of criteria 2 and 3 fail.

Criterion 1 , that the proper subject matter of linguistics must exist, gives even less ground for criticism. Claims that some particular account of the language faculty picks out a non-existent entity are legitimate, of course. But a negative answer to either of these questions is not a negative answer to the question of whether or not a psychological entity is a proper subject matter for linguistics.

Even if no one yet has an accurate description of what the faculty of language is, there must be some cognitive and neurophysiological facts about humans underlying our linguistic behavior and these facts describe the language faculty.

So there must be some psychological ontology of language which satisfies 1.

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