ll are in agreement as to the existence of government, the two schools of thought differ in the way citizens should be governed or the power vested in governments. To try to understand individuals and the society, the paper will discuss the works of Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, and Thomas Hobbes who are the earliest founders of sociology.
His conception of society is based on realism which views society as an external reality existing outside of individuals and can be studied as such (Morrison 2006, p. 150). His theory therefore, is based on the idea that society exists before the individual, and that individuals are shaped by the structures and mechanisms of society. He (Durkheim) conceives the individual as acting in pursuit of his own interests but constrained by the social facts of society. In his study, he regarded individuals as members of a social system hence they are social actors who observe and interpret facts of the external world. The social facts in this case refer to language, religion, economy, and law and other beliefs and values that exist in society and determine the actions of individuals. He considered them as real and therefore referred to society as “Sui-generis” (Roberts 1997 ch.6, par 11) meaning the society is real.
As observed by Morrison (2006, p. 152) Durkheim asserts that the external framework of the society is made up of structures and mechanisms that constitute realities and make individuals members of society. He gives an example of how the class structure determines the rank and position of individual in social hierarchy. According to him, these structures and mechanisms are objective and given at birth and possess power and dispositions that affect people’s actions by placing restrictions on them. Individuals as pursuits of own interests have senses, and therefore engage only in those activities that are beneficial to them. In the process of trying to achieve their goals, they exchange with other individuals in the society
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