Assess Different Sociological Explanations of Suicide

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Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess different sociological explanations of suicide. (21 marks)

Suicide is the intentional taking of one's own life and sociologists over the years have tried to put forward various explanations for why someone may do this. Within sociology there are many different views on suicide on the causes and explanations for it, these come from two main methodologies which are Positivists who believe that sociology is a science and they should aim to make causal laws on suicide rates, compared to Interpretivists who believe that they should look for meaning behind occurrences and certain individuals experiences before the suicide. Other perspectives also put in their views on what they believe to explain suicide for example, Realists.

Item A references to Durkheim’s Structural Functionalist view on suicide, as stated Durkheim believes that due to sociology being a science with the topic of suicide it is very easy to make causal laws or as said in Item A ‘social facts’. Due to the fact Durkheim believed that there were a number of causes behind suicide he form four types of suicide from a Positivist viewpoint. Egoistic suicide which is when individuals are not integrated well enough into society for example people who live alone compared to those who live with family. Secondly Altruistic suicide which is when individuals are felt to be too integrated into society causing suicide, for example members of the armed forces were said to have greater suicide rates than civilian personnel as they were too strongly integrated into a united body. Durkheim also put forward the idea of Anomic suicide, this is when the norms and values in society become unclear or confused in times of great social change and an individual is not taught to adapt to changes well enough. For example an unexpected death of a family member is sudden social change which can cause Anomic suicide. Lastly, he suggested Fatalistic suicide. Fatalism is the...
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