One cannot understand individual behavior without understanding the social forces acting upon that individual.
The sociologist studies causes that does not effect the individual but the group.
The science of Sociology must be objective, since it confronts realities that concern the psychologist or biologist.
The discipline of Sociology should be understood as the empirical study of social facts. For Durkheim, social facts "consist of manners of acting, thinking and feeling external to the individual, which are invested with a coercive power by virtue of which they exercise control over him.
Sociology is the science of social facts. Durkheim suggests two central theses, without which sociology would not be a science: 1. It must have a specific object of study. Unlike philosophy or psychology, sociology's proper object of study are social facts. 2. It must respect and apply a recognized objective scientific method, bringing it as close as possible to the other exact sciences. This method must at all cost avoid prejudice and subjectivejudgment.
Social facts are the values, cultural norms, and social structures which transcend the individual and are capable of exercising a social constraint. Social facts must be treated as things and not as personal experiences, but must also be observed by a researcher. According to Durkheim, sociologists, without preconceptions and prejudices, must study social facts as real, objective phenomena. Have to consider social facts as things.
"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."
Durkheim considered social facts to "consist of representations and actions" which meant that "they cannot be confused with organic phenomena, nor with psychical phenomena, which have no existence save in and through the individual consciousness”
We are born into families, and perhaps religions, and our families and religious leaders teach us what to believe and what to think about right and wrong. We are given language, which is our only means of communication. And we are constrained in every respect by the organization of laws, rules and customs of the societies in which we live. The businessman who tries to conduct business outside of the organized economy will fail. The individual who tries to communicate without language will be unable to do so. The individual who tries to behave outside of the norms established by our laws and customs will be punished.
Each individual is born into a socially-organized network that both teaches and requires behavior and conforming beliefs. Laws and punishments, religion, politics, language, economics, professions and other forms of custom and rule are all aspects of social organization, and they all influence both an individual’s behavior and his internal beliefs and morality. Their influence is compulsive or coercive, though Durkheim writes that, for the most part, individuals do not feel or recognize these coercive forces, and may attribute their choices and beliefs to internal processes.
Durkheim also seems to acknowledge that external, social forces may act differently on different individuals, much like a chemical interaction with each individual providing a slightly different chemical to the mix.
In Suicide, Durkheim proposes to uncover the social facts that affect rates of suicides in different countries during different times. He finds suicide to be a social phenomena Focuses on why psychopathology, race, and heredity cannot explain the changing rates of suicide. He also dismisses arguments that geographical differences, changes in climate, and “imitation” cannot cause changing rates of suicide.. The first