Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-20, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 19 December, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2020.


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Social currents

core definition

Social currents is a term developed in Durkheimian social analysis to refer to aspects of the conscience collective.

explanatory context

Examples of social currents are religion, industrialisation, division of labour and individualism.

analytical review

University of Colorado Boulder (undated) sets social currents in the context of social facts:

Social facts also include social currents, group experiences, emotions that transcend the individual and emerge only in the context of collectivity, where they force individuals to act in ways they would not have consider possible if acting individually, isolated from others.

The 'Making Anthropology Public (undated) website states:

Social Facts...are one of two influences that hold sway over the individual. The second influential factor Durkheim notes are “social currents.” These are the spur-of-the-moment feelings that power a mob, even overriding some “social facts”. A good example of this is the riots in Egypt, particularly in Cairo and Alexandria; ... A historic example would be the French Revolutions, particularly The Reign of Terror. The only difference between “social facts” and “social currents” are the level to which they are crystalized, a “social current” is strong but short-lived, whereas a “social fact” is much more secure through time and change; which is not to say that a “social current” may not solidify into a “social fact.”

The McGraw-Hill (2004) Sociological Theory site Glossary defines 'social currents' as:

Social facts that are not yet crystallized into social organizations.

associated issues


related areas

See also



Making Anthropology Public, undated, 'The Foundations of Sociological Thought – Durkheim, Mauss, and Weber', available at, accessed 18 April 2013, still available 14 June 2019.

McGraw-Hill, 2004, Sociological Theory: Glossary , available at, accessed 14 May 2013, page not available 28 December 2016.

University of Colorado Boulder, undated, 'Social facts—agency/structure—social types', available at, accessed 18 April 2013, still available 1 June 2019.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2020


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