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Systems are made up of a large number of system/ environmental oppositions, which are in their own way engaged in different processes of reconstituting a social system as a synthesis of subsystems and environment. Everything which is part of the system is involved in these processes of self-production. The elements which make up the system have no given period of life; everything must be continually reproduced. Without the capacity to generate its own independence from the environment, the social system would cease to exist.

It is: · · · · an entity possessing certain characteristics which are independent of people's observations; an entity which can be known only a posteriori. The social fact is known through experience not in an a priori fashion as described by Kant; an entity which is independent of human volition; an entity which can only be known through `external' observation, rather than by introspection. Durkheim on suicide In his classic study of suicide, Durkheim followed his own rules of the sociological method.

What other mechanisms exist to allow people to share values, attitudes and beliefs which make up the conscience collective? Durkheim is unclear about this. In terms of the scope of the conscience collective, there are some areas which are not under its control, which Durkheim terms `circles of physical necessities'. This sphere of human activity is usually the private sphere of our lives. Finally, Durkheim's sociology tends to ignore con¯ict ± except for the con¯ict between the individual and the collective.

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