The primary objective or the end goal of all the durkhiem’s works is to establish sociology as a systematic science of society .Durkheim also advocated positivism and empiricism as methodology for the study of sociology ,theory of social fact is also a development in that respect i.e. to strike a similarity among sociology and biological sciences as they study biological and physical facts respectively.
So, what is social fact and how it can be used in the scientific study of sociology? According, to Durkheim social facts are the rules or the norms ,values that different individuals learn and follow collectively .Although they are reflected by or refracted through individuals ,they are external and constraining upon the individual ,social facts are as real as natural laws and physical facts and they act collectively as parts of society along with institutions and arrangements (which we deliberate later) thus, society is a sui generis i.e. it has its own existence and can be only analysed through sociology.
The works of Durkheim like Marx are a response to modernity and a part of modernity. He was sceptical about the sustenance of social solidarity in the wake of modernity and disruptive changes sweeping the society Durkheim believed that social disintegration and free will and individualism were also encouraged by modernity and its newly realigned institutions (modern institutions).It was strengthened by his conclusion that human beings are essentially anti-social and were made to be interdependent by norms and values which modernity is threatening. This he speculated may result in a situation called anomie which literally means law lessness or without any law.
The solution that Durkheim proposed for anomic condition of modern society is to achieve organic social solidarity through creation of enhanced moral believes through scientific study of existing morals and strengthening them as collective social believes to inhibit anomie.
Though originally propounded Herbert spencer Durkheim was the first to use functionalist perspective he also enhanced it to a new level .It (functionalism) interprets each part of society
as how it contributes to the stability of a society. society is seen by functionalists as more that sum of its parts. He metaphorically compare society with an organisms in which every part has a different function and no organism can survive without the help of another. The different parts primarily comprises of social facts, institution and arrangements etc. every institution has a role if the function or role is no longer relevant the institution will die or evolve, emerge and new institution will replace it. In that way a society will compensate social change through evolution of its institutions
In retrospect Durkheim through his works played a crucial role in defining the domain of sociology by explaining the peculiarities of certain phenomenon’s which biology and psychology cannot encompass. His works gave rise to structural consensus theory a dominant thought in sociology. By maintaining scientific neutrality in his works he became an exemplary figure for sociologist of later generations.
In spite of the criticism of reducing humans into cultural dopes the works of Durkheim and his social ontology are of great academic value and played a key role in nascent stages of sociology as discipline.