Social Research Glossary

 

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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-17, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International, http://www.qualityresearchinternational.com/socialresearch/

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 2 January, 2017 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2017.

 

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Conscious collective


core definition

Conscious collective (collective consciousness) is a term used in Durkheimian analysis to refer to the set of beliefs, morals, religious sentiments and processes of reasoning common to the average member of a society.


explanatory context

Conscious collective is similar to the later idea of central value system..

 

The conscious collective is embodied in specific social currents, implemented by collective representations and manifested in social facts.


analytical review

Piepmeyer (2007) wrote:

The term collective consciousness refers to the condition of the subject within the whole of society, and how any given individual comes to view herself as a part of any given group. The term has specifically been used by social theorists/psychoanalysts like Durkheim, Althusser, and Jung to explicate how an autonomous individual comes to identify with a larger group/structure. Definitively, “collective” means “[f]ormed by [a] collection of individual persons or things; constituting a collection; gathered into one; taken as a whole; aggregate, collected” (OED). Likewise, “consciousness,” (a term which is slightly more complex to define with the entirety of its implications) signifies “Joint or mutual knowledge,” “Internal knowledge or conviction; knowledge as to which one has the testimony within oneself; esp. of one's own innocence, guilt, deficiencies,” and “The state or fact of being mentally conscious or aware of anything” (OED). By combining the two terms, we can surmise that the phrase collective consciousness implies an internal knowing known by all, or a consciousness shared by a plurality of persons. The easiest way to think of the phrase (even with its extremely loaded historical content) is to regard it as being an idea or proclivity that we all share, whoever specifically “we” might entail.

Although history credits Émile Durkheim with the coinage of the phrase, many other theorists have engaged the notion. The term has specifically been used by social theorists like Durkheim, Althusser, and Jung to explicate how an autonomous individual comes to identify with a larger group/structure, and as such, how patterns of commonality among individuals bring legible unity to those structures. Durkheim and Althusser are concerned with the making of the subject as an aggregation of external processes/societal conditions. Also worth noting (though of a slightly different variety) are the writings of Vladmir Vernadsky, Katherine Hayles, and Slavoj Zizek, (specifically his pieces about cyberspace).


associated issues

 


related areas

See also

Durkheim

social fact


Sources

Piepmeyer, A., 2007, 'Collective consciousness', available at http://csmt.uchicago.edu/glossary2004/collectiveconsciousness.htm , accessed 2 February 2013, still available 14 December 2016.


copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2017


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