Reflection Questions

Reflection Questions
1. David Émile Durkheim (1858 -1917) was a French sociologist and philosopher, founder of the French sociological school, and structural-functional analysis, one of the founders of sociology as an independent discipline.

He considered that the subject of sociology is social facts, existing outside the individual, and having towards it the normative coercive power.
According to Durkheim, "Social fact" is any image of action, clearly defined or not, but which is able to have an outside pressure on an individual and at the same time to have its own existence independent of it. At birth the individual founds the ready laws and customs, rules of behavior, religious beliefs and rituals, language, monetary system, operating independently from him. These are images of thoughts, actions and feelings exist independently and objectively.
A consequence of the objectivity of social facts is another characteristic of them - the pressure exerted on people, forcing them to a certain action. Every person feels social coercion. Legal and moral rules, for example, can not be violated without feeling the full weight of public disapproval. The same is with the rest of social facts.

So, the social fact is an image of action, way of thinking and feeling that exists outside the person (objectively), and has normative coercive power towards the person.

Social facts are divided into the facts of the collective consciousness (ideas, feelings, legends, beliefs, traditions) and morphological evidence, providing the order and relationship between individuals: the size and population density, the form of housing, geographical location, etc.
The facts of the collective consciousness include the following classes of phenomena: the general ideas and feelings, moral maxims and beliefs, moral norms and legal codes of behavior, the economic motives and interests of people.

2. While gathering the data about the human societies, sociologists use any of three basic methods for collecting sociological information:

1) Direct observation (the direct detection of the events by the eyewitness);
2) The analysis of documents (documented information is any information that is preserved in a printed or handwritten text, on tape, on camera or film);
3) The polls, surveys (an indispensable method of obtaining information about the subjective world of people, their disposition, motivation activities, opinions).
They are divided into two subclasses:
a) Interview (The conducted in a specific way conversation, implying a direct contact of the interviewer and the respondent. The record of the respondent’s answers is made by the interviewer (or his assistant), or mechanically (on film);
b) Questionnaire (this method assumes the rigidly fixed order, content and form of questions, a clear indication of ways to respond).

The main advantage of all these methods is that they allow seeing the whole picture of the whole society, and not peopling (individuals) separately. But at the same time the disadvantage is that one separate method of gathering data is not very representative, so it is better to use two methods at once, in order to obtain relevant, true data.

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