social fact

(noun) “[T]he laws, morals, values, religious beliefs, customs, fashions, rituals, and all of the cultural rules that govern social life” (OpenStax College 2012).

Audio Pronunciation: (so·cial fact)

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Usage Notes:

  • Plural: social facts
  • Term coined by Émile Durkheim (1858–1917) in his work The Rules of Sociological Method (1895)
  • Social facts can be material (e.g., society, institutions, and demographics) or nonmaterial (e.g. symbols, rules, and mores).

Related Quotations:

  • “[A]spects of social life that 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).
  • “[S]ocial facts serve to constrain [peoples] 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).

Related Terms: 



Hughes, Michael, and Carolyn J. Kroehler. 2008. Sociology: The Core. 8th ed. Boston: McGraw Hill.

OpenStax College. 2012. Theoretical Perspectives. Connexions. October 9, 2012. (