Collective Representation In Emile Durkheim's Sociology

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‘Representation’ is a key theoretical term of Durkheim’s sociology. He never defined what he meant by the term, perhaps because it was so commonly used and accepted by philosophers of his day. The noun representation is generally associated with an adjective: collective, cultural, social, and mental; said adjectives qualify a different meaning of the concept in various disciplines, although sometimes they are intertwined. In fact, every discipline has brought its own specificity. The concept of representation arises in sociology with Emile Durkheim, who first proposed it together with the adjective ‘collective’, to detect the deep bond existing between this concept and another key one for French sociologist, that of “collective Consciousness. The Collective consciousness is the set of beliefs and sentiments common to the average members of the same society forms a specific system. Durkheim divides representations into various kinds such as empirical representation,…show more content…
Collective representation relate to representations which can be said to be held by a group or a society as a whole. Durkheim wrote that they are made up of ‘mental states of a people or a social group which thinks in common’. According to Pickering, for Durkheim individual representations are of less importance than collective representations. Primarily for Durkheim, Individual representations are imperfect reflections of collective representations. Within the society each person has a particular set of representations which is never identical to that of society. Each person is differentiated from another, according endless variations. Pickering’s understanding of Durkheim suggests that ‘in studying individual representations practical difficulties present themselves on account of the infinite number and variety. Their extent is so great that they are beyond management, classification and therefore

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