(noun) A way of acting, feeling, or thinking external to an individual with the coercive power to control aspects of their life.
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- 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).
- “[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).
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How to Cite the Definition of Social Fact
ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “social fact.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved January 19, 2019 (http://sociologydictionary.org/social-fact/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
social fact. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from http://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 January 19, 2019. http://sociologydictionary.org/social-fact/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“social fact.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 19 Jan. 2019. <http://sociologydictionary.org/social-fact/>.