- IPA Pronunciation
- Syllabification: (so·cial fact)
- Plural: social facts
- Social facts can be material (e.g., society, institutions, and demographics) or non-material (e.g., symbols, rules, and mores).
- “A social fact is every way of acting, whether fixed or not, which is capable of exercising an external constraint on the individual; or, which is general throughout a given society, whilst having an existence of its own, independent of its individual manifestations” (Durkheim  2004:50).
- “[A]spects of social life . . . cannot be explained in terms of the biological or mental characteristics of the individual. People experience social facts as external to themselves in the sense that facts have an independent reality and form a part of people’s objective environment” (Hughes and Kroehler 2008:13).
- “But in reality there is in every society a specific group of phenomena which are distinguished by characteristics that are quite separate from those studied by the other natural sciences. When I undertake my duties as a brother, husband, or citizen and fulfil the commitments that I have entered into, I perform obligations which are defined outside myself and my actions, in law and custom . . . Here, then, is a category of facts with very special characteristics: they consist of ways of acting, thinking and feeling that are external to the individual and are endowed with a coercive power by virtue of which they exercise control over him” (Durkheim  2004:46–47).
- “[S]ocial facts serve to constrain [people’s] behavior and include not only legal and moral rules in society, but also relationships and behavior patterns of others that affect our day-today lives” (Hughes and Kroehler 2008:13).
- “The determining cause of a social fact must be sought among antecedent social facts preceding it and not among the states of the individual consciousness . . . The function of a social fact must always to be sought in its relationship to some social end” (Durkheim  2004:61).
- “The first and fundamental rule is to consider social facts as things” (Durkheim  2004:50).
- “We thus arrive at the point where we can formulate precisely the field of sociology. It includes only one specific group of phenomena. A social fact is recognized by the power of external coercion which it exercises, or is capable of exercising, over individuals; and the presence of this power is in turn recognizable by the existence of some specific sanction, or by the resistance that it offers to any individual action that would violate it” (Durkheim  2004:49).
Durkheim, Émile.  2004. “The Rules of Sociological Method.” Pp. 43–63 in Readings from Emile Durkheim. Rev. ed., edited and translated by K. Thompson. New York: Routledge.
Hughes, Michael, and Carolyn J. Kroehler. 2008. Sociology: The Core. 8th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill.
Andersen, Margaret L., and Howard Francis Taylor. 2011. Sociology: The Essentials. 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Bilton, Tony, Kevin Bonnett, Pip Jones, David Skinner, Michelle Stanworth, and Andrew Webster. 1996. Introductory Sociology. 3rd ed. London: Macmillan.
Dillon, Michele. 2014. Introduction to Sociological Theory: Theorists, Concepts, and their Applicability to the Twenty-First Century. 2nd ed. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Encyclopædia Britannica. (N.d.) Britannica Digital Learning. (https://britannicalearn.com/).
Ferrante, Joan. 2011a. Seeing Sociology: An Introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Ferrante, Joan. 2011b. Sociology: A Global Perspective. 7th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Griffiths, Heather, Nathan Keirns, Eric Strayer, Susan Cody-Rydzewski, Gail Scaramuzzo, Tommy Sadler, Sally Vyain, Jeff Bry, Faye Jones. 2016. Introduction to Sociology 2e. Houston, TX: OpenStax.
Henslin, James M. 2012. Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach. 10th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Jary, David, and Julia Jary. 2000. Collins Dictionary of Sociology. 3rd ed. Glasgow, Scotland: HarperCollins.
Kendall, Diana. 2011. Sociology in Our Times. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Merriam-Webster. (N.d.) Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/).
Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).
Ravelli, Bruce, and Michelle Webber. 2016. Exploring Sociology: A Canadian Perspective. 3rd ed. Toronto: Pearson.
Scott, John, and Gordon Marshall. 2005. A Dictionary of Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press.
Stewart, Paul, and Johan Zaaiman, eds. 2015. Sociology: A Concise South African Introduction. Cape Town: Juta.
Stolley, Kathy S. 2005. The Basics of Sociology. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Taylor & Francis. (N.d.) Routledge Handbooks Online. (https://www.routledgehandbooks.com/).
Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. (https://en.wikipedia.org/).
Wiley. (N.d.) Wiley Online Library. (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/).
ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “social fact.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved August 24, 2019 (https://sociologydictionary.org/social-fact/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
social fact. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/social-fact/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “social fact.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed August 24, 2019. https://sociologydictionary.org/social-fact/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“social fact.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 24 Aug. 2019. <https://sociologydictionary.org/social-fact/>.