Sociology Index


It is the nature of specialized tasks to escape the action of the conscience collective. Conscience collective is a defensive weapon which has definite value. An act is criminal when it offends strong and defined states of the conscience collective. We do not condemn it because it is a crime, but it is a crime because it is condemned by the conscience collective. Conscience collective is a concept associated with David Emile Durkheim, referring to the common norms, values and beliefs shared in by members of a community. Conscience collective defines the abstract realm of a society's virtues, morals and ideals expressed through actions. Strong, well-defined states of this conscience collective are adhered to in simple societies; an action against it is seen as a crime as it deviates from the societal expectations of morality.

Conscience collective consists of beliefs and ideas that shape the structure and direction of community life, rather than just the personal interactions of individuals. Repressive sanctions are found in societies with highly defined conscience collective, as a means of penalizing anyone who acts against the grain for the mere sake of it being “wrong”. Restitutive sanctions are found in societies with a lesser conscience collective, instead as a means of fixing the problem.

Conscience Collective or False Consciousness? Adorno’s Critique of Durkheim’s Sociology of Morals - Tobias Garde Hagens, Centre for Ethics and Law, Denmark 
Journal of Classical Sociology, Vol. 6, No. 2, 215-237 (2006)
When Durkheim’s Sociologie et philosophie was first translated into German in 1967, Theodor Adorno wrote a critical introduction to the book. This article first presents the main thoughts in Durkheim’s sociology of morals - that is, his concept of societally instituted morality as a reality sui generis that must be obeyed because the state of society constitutes a ‘reason’ beyond that of the individual. The article then presents Adorno’s critique of Durkheim. Departing from a general critique of Durkheim’s disregard for individuality in establishing obligatory social morality, Adorno utilizes the Marxian concepts of ‘second nature’, ‘continued natural history’ and true and false consciousness to show how Durkheim’s concept of conscience collective is merely expressive of what society ‘believes itself to be’.

Is the Conscience Collective Black and White? Ireland, Michael; Ellis, Lucy
Abstract: This article takes as its theme the black and white photography that forms a common record of occupations and kinship ties in the fishing communities of West Cornwall. Taking as its focus the fishing village of Sennen Cove in West Cornwall, the study shows through ethnographic research examples, how black and white photographs stimulate the conscience collective among indigenous peoples.