According to Georg Simmel (1858-1918), the inability to actually know another person creates the condition for social relations. Society has created categories, type, or generalizations to facilitate social interaction. For example, when a student talks to a teacher, the student relies on a generalized concept or image of teachers. But the role of “teacher” doesn’t tell us much about the person who plays that role.
The theory of the group mind was developed by Gabriel Tarde and taken up by Durkheim. The thesis that crowd behavior is not simply the
“Contemporary civilisation in England, America, France, in all modern countries, tends to diminish the intellectual difference, which was becoming more and more deep and far-reaching, between men and women by opening up most of men’s occupations to women and by letting the latter share in almost all the advantages of training and education of the former.”–Gabriel Tarde
“So it is, in the truest sense of the word, the question itself—what keeps society together?—which keeps society together.”
Norms are a product of differentiation. Social systems differentiate expected behavior (norms) from actual behavior. That is to say, norms serve as prediction schemata. The norm is the expected. Behavioral norms are expected even if they are not anticipated. For instance, even if we know a person well and we anticipate that he will lie to us, we nonetheless expect him to tell the truth; otherwise we could not engage in communication with that person at all.
Luhmann speaks of four “epistemological obstacles . . . to be found in the prevailing understanding of society in the form of four interconnected, mutually