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42 Examples of a Social Fact

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A social fact is a widely accepted social construct or measurable social reality. This includes things such as values, institutions and language that are fully socially constructed such that they are human and intangible. Social facts also include measurable elements of society such as demographics and economic production that correspond to tangible things. The following are illustrative examples of social facts.
Capital
Communities
Concepts
Conformity
Cultural Capital
Cultures
Economic Systems
Families
Games
Groupthink
Heritage
Households
Humor
Identity
Industries
Institutions
Knowledge Capital
Languages
Laws
Leadership
Legal Systems
Loyalty
Markets
Marriage
Media
Money
Norms
Opinions
Organizations
Political Power
Political Systems
Professions
Relational Capital
Relationships
Religions
Reputation
Rights & Freedoms
Rites of Passage
Roles & Responsibilities
Social Status
Traditions
Values

Sociology & Social Facts

Sociology can be described as the science of social fact.

Postmodernism & Social Facts

Postmodern views of social fact, particularly critical theory, view social facts as imposed by elites or oppressive systems. In this context, social facts are viewed as negative because they constraint the absolute freedom of the individual. This can be contrasted with the traditional academic view that social facts have emerged to serve human needs. The latter approach adopts the pragmatic view that humans are social beings who tend to value civility, cooperation, connectedness, economic growth, technological progress, shared experience, stability, safety, security, justice and belonging over unconstrained freedom.

Material Social Facts

Material social facts are social realities that can be physically measured such as demographics, economic production or military capabilities. It is incorrect to say that material social facts are those that are institutionalized. Material facts simply correspond to material realities.

Non-Material Social Facts

Non-material social facts are fully intangible such that they are socially constructed and do not directly correspond to some specific physical reality. For example, a language that is mostly a collection of abstract concepts that have been developed and transmitted over generations.

Emile Durkheim

A social fact is every way of acting, fixed or not, capable of exercising on the individual an external constraint; or again, every way of acting which is general throughout a given society, while at the same time existing in its own right independent of its individual manifestations.
~ Emile Durkheim, The Rules of Sociological Method
The term social fact originates with Emile Durkheim who defined it (above) as any social entity that exerts external control over the individual.

Counterexample

Anything that extends from the individual isn't a social fact. For example, if you believe that people are inherently competitive, you could argue that competition isn't a social fact that is imposed on the individual by society. Likewise, social realities such as friendship could be viewed as driven by individual behaviors and needs.
Overview: Social Fact
Type
Definition (1)
A widely accepted social construct or measurable social reality.
Definition (2)
Any social entity that exerts external influence or control over individuals in a society or particular social context.
Related Concepts

Social Constructs

This is the complete list of articles we have written about social constructs.
Anomie
Civility
Civilization
Conflict Theory
Cultural Behavior
Cultural Norms
Culture
Examples of Facts
Human Behavior
Interactionism
Norms
Postmodernism
Social Analysis
Social Constructs
Social Constructs II
Social Fact
Social Imagination
Social Reality
Social Values
Society
Super Culture
Traditions
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Social Constructs

The definition of social construct with examples.

Symbolic Interactionism

An overview of symbolic interactionism with examples.

Conflict Theory

The definition of conflict theory with examples.

Social Analysis

An overview of social analysis with examples.

Social Imagination

An overview of social imagination with examples.

Social Contract

An overview of the social contract with examples.

Social Facts

An overview of social facts with examples.

Symbolic Culture

An overview of symbolic culture with examples.

Norms

The definition of norms with examples.

Nonconformity

The definition of nonconformity with examples.

Social Expectations

An overview of social expectations with examples and a list of advantages and disadvantages.

Community Overview

An overview of community with definition, example and comparisons.

Social Context

The definition of social context with examples.

Community Culture

An overview of community culture with examples.

Self Determination

An overview of self-determination with examples.

Personal Relationship

An overview of personal relationships with examples.

Social Roles

A list of social roles.

Social Norm List

An list of common social norms.

Culture Change Examples

An extensive list of culture changes throughout history.

Responsible Things

A list of responsible things.

Traditional Values

An overview of traditional values with examples.
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