The Rules were written in 1895, and represent Durkheim’s hope to develop a systematic sociology. Substantively, Durkheim is interested in that which held society together, and was writing in response to two types of arguments he disagreed with. In his conceptualization of a social fact, he is arguing against social contract theorists, such as Hobbes and Rousseau, who saw all of life in contractual terms. On their view, individuals were constrained by society, but deliberately so: people designed the constraints to guide society through the repression of individual will with a strong state. Social contract theorists posit an initial agreement among people that binds society together. Thus social life springs from individual choices. In his work on social facts, Durkheim is also arguing against thinkers like Spencer who see society in functional terms such that the social end was the cause of an event. The book is a call to action. The action called for is to break with the heretofore-philosophic tendencies. Sociology must be not only a concept for discussion, but also an empirical science in application. If not applied scientifically it will be worthless to society. Society is the highest order and therefore deserves an independent science, which explores answers and explains society at the highest level, both empirically and objectively.
Most fundamentally, Durkheim argued that society constitutes a reality distinct from the individuals who compose it. It Obeys rules and logics that are not reducible to psychology or other individual factors—indeed he argued that society shaped those factors and the even more basic cognitive experiences of time and space. This book is an inspiration to developing the use of scientific method to examine and answer questions about society and to explore and describe society. A second influence on Durkheim's view of society beyond Comte's positivism was the epistemological outlook Called social realism. Although he never explicitly exposed it, Durkheim adopted a realist perspective in order to demonstrate the existence of social realities outside the individual and to show that these realities existed in the form of the objective relations of society. As an epistemology of science, realism can be defined as a perspective which takes as its central point of departure the view that external social realities exist in the outer world and that these realities are independent of the individual's perception of them1.
Cite this article:
Kamalnath Nayak, Sujit Choudhury. Methodological Orientation of Emile Durkhiem. Research J. Humanities and Social Sciences. 2(4): Oct. - Dec., 2011, 188-192.