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SOCIOLOGY AND SOCIAL CHANGE"The air does not cease to have weight," writes Durkheim, "although we no longer feel that weight."(1)The point is, of course, how do we know that there is thatthingcalled "air" out there if we do not feel its presence? What Durkheim was interested to show, indeed, was that those elements of reality that he came to callsocial facts(2)were out there, regardless of whether the individuals felt their presence or not. Actually, the individuals are almost never aware of the compelling presence of those social facts, which they have a tendency to take for granted. Sometimes, however, social facts appear unmistakably to the individual who is not even trained sociologically to discover that which is not so obvious. This awareness about the constrictive presence of social facts is often made possible by any kind of alteration to what we normally take for granted in the regularity of social events. Such breakdowns of normalcy may at times occur by accident -e.g., we make more eye contact than what is culturally prescribed with a stranger whom we mistakenly identify as an acquaintance. However, they invariably occur in the midst of drastic social changes, when completely new social situations put individuals together who are at a loss trying to find out what it is that is expected from them to do -e.g., a member of a traditionally superordinate group in society turns out to be subordinate to a boss who belongs to a socially inferior group. ...


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