In the view of Karl Marx, human beings are intrinsically, necessarily and by definition social beings who - beyond being "gregarious creatures" - cannot survive and meet their needs other than through social co-operation and association. Their social characteristics are therefore to a large extent an objectively given fact, stamped on them from birth and affirmed by socialization processes; and, according to Marx, in producing and reproducing their material life, people must necessarily enter into relations of production which are "independent of their will".
By contrast, the sociologist Max Weber for example defines human action as "social" if, by virtue of the subjective meanings attached to the action by individuals, it "takes account of the behavior of others, and is thereby oriented in its course". In this case, the "social" domain really exists only in the intersubjective relations between individuals, but by implication the life of these individuals also exists in part outside the social domain. "Social" is thus implicitly also contrasted with "private".
In the positivist sociology of Emile Durkheim, a social fact is an abstraction external to the individual which constrains that individual's actions. In his 1895 work Rules of Sociological Method, Durkheim writes: "A social fact is every way of acting, fixed or not, capable of exercising on the individual an influence, or an external constraint; or again, every way of acting which is general throughout a given society, while at the same time existing in its own right independent of its individual manifestations." In Durkheim's view, sociology is 'the science of social facts'.
 Socialism and social democracy
The term "socialism", used from the 1830s onwards in France and the United Kingdom, was directly related to what was called the social question, in essence the problem that the emergence of competitive market societies did not create "liberty, equality and fraternity" for all citizens,...