Durkheims Study of Suicide

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Using material A and elsewhere assess the usefulness of different sociological approaches to suicide.

There are two approaches to suicide, one being positivism which is a scientific approach to find out cause and effect using methods such as lab experiments. Positivists are also structuralists who believe that it is the structure of society that affects people. On the other hand, Interpretivists are interested in looking into interaction between people as the causes of suicide and this approach is not scientific. Durkheim’s study of suicide was the first sociological study of suicide. He wanted to prove sociology was a science and he thought, as suicide is perceived as the one thing that is defiantly internal, that it would be the best thing to study. He believed that societies had an effect on the likelihood of people committing suicide. This can be supported by the fact that suicide rates increase during recessions. E.g. Greece recession. Durkheim looked at the difference between different groups in society, such as unmarried and married people and also Catholics and Protestants. He was looking to find out that people with high or low integration and regulation were less or more likely to commit suicide. Social integration means societies that have shared norms and values, the more integrated a person the more duties they will have in society. Moral regulation is the degree in which society controls its member’s behaviour through informal or formal control. Using his theory on regulation and integration Durkheim came up with four types of suicide. Firstly, Altruistic suicide which occurs in society where individuals are strongly integrated into society: these individuals are so integrated they are willing to take their lives for the benefit of others. For example, Japanese Kamikaze pilots flying their planes into American warships for the benefit of their country. Secondly, Egoistic suicide which occurs when people are not integrated into society, they...
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