Collective Consciousness Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

What is collective consciousness and what role does society play in it? This lesson plan uses a video lesson to outline pivotal facts about Emile Durkheim's theory. An activity gives students a chance to demonstrate what they've learned.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define 'collective consciousness'
  • summarize Emile Durkheim's theory on collective consciousness
  • list key correlates of the theory of collective consciousness


1 to 2 hours

Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.


Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.


  • A worksheet created using the quiz from the associated video lesson
  • Magazines
  • Poster board
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Markers

Key Vocabulary

  • Emile Durkheim
  • Collective Consciousness
  • Mechanical solidarity
  • Organic solidarity
  • Anomie


  • Begin by asking students to take turns trying to explain the meaning of the term 'consciousness.' As the students are sharing their ideas, write some common points on the board.
    • Do the descriptions refer to consciousness of the individual?
    • Could there be a level of group or collective consciousness?
  • Play the video lesson Collective Consciousness: Definition, Theory & Examples for the class now, pausing it at 1:00.
    • How is collective consciousness different from individual consciousness?
    • If collective consciousness is a 'collection of beliefs and values,' how would you describe the collective consciousness of the student body in this school?
    • How can the collective consciousness theory ring true when we all have so many differences?
  • Play the video lesson for the class again. Pause it this time at 3:39.
    • By Emile Durkheim's standards, would our current society be deemed primitive or complex?
    • How does a complex society lend itself to a collective consciousness?
    • What might be a modern example of 'anomie'?
  • Play the remainder of the video lesson now.
    • Why is a wedding a representation of collective consciousness?
    • Why is criminal behavior considered a violation of collective consciousness?
  • Review key points from the text lesson with the class at this time.
  • Pass out the worksheet to the class with each student receiving one copy.
  • Instruct the students to work independently to complete the worksheet.
  • When all students have finished the worksheet, review each question and answer with the class as students follow along and check their work.

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