Social Fact

A social fact is an idea originating with the sociologist Émile Durkheim—it’s something that has a genesis in the institutions or culture of a society which affects the behavior or attitudes or any one member of that society. Mimetic systems and the scapegoat mechanism are examples of Social facts.

The University of Colorado gives the following examples: institutions, statuses, roles, laws, beliefs, population distribution, urbanization.

Mimetic desire is a social fact. It is, in the words of the philosopher Timothy Morgon, a hyperobject. It is something so all-encompassing that we don’t even realize how it affecting us, yet it affects the way that we behave almost every second of every day.

The entire mimetic process of mimetic desire leading to rivalry leading to crisis and eventually the scapegoat mechanism is a social fact that can be transcended, according to Luke Burgis in his book Wanting: The Power of Mimetic Desire in Everyday Life. Social facts are not hermetically sealed boxes from which humans cannot escape, but psychological and social constraints from which, in a given time and circumstances, they feel constrained or react mimetically and within the bounds of the system.