1. Durkheim chose to study an act such as suicide as he aimed to prove there are sociological causes behind suicide, and therefore proving sociology was a distinct and genuinely scientific discipline.
2. Social facts have three features, they are external to individuals, they constrain individuals, shaping their behaviour and also they are greater than individuals, so exist on a greater level.
3. Anomic suicide is caused by too little regulation in a rapidly changing society.
4. Modern societies are less effective in regulating individuals, causing low levels of integration.
5. Escape, cry for help, revenge.
6. Suicide note, mode of death, life history and location or circumstances.
7. Where the suicide is a result of feelings towards someone else, or a plea to them.
8. Altruistic suicide
Essay question: using material from item A and elsewhere, assess the usefulness of different sociological approaches to suicide:
When studying suicide, there are two different sociological approaches to the topic. Firstly, positivist sociologists such as Durkheim look to explain suicide using quantitative, measurable data, from official statistics. This involves using figures and patterns, to explain the way in which different societies have different suicide rates, due to social reasons. Durkheim used these statistics to prove that suicide rates could not simply be a result of motives of the individual. Interpretivists on the other hand have looked to demolish Durkheims theory, by focusing on the meanings of suicide for those involved. Durkheim's theory stated that suicide rates were an effect of social facts or forces acting upon individuals, and due to alternative forces acting differently in varying societies, this resulted in differing suicide rates. Durkheim identified four types of suicide, two of each reflecting the social facts of social integration, where the individual feels a sense of belonging to a group, and moral regulation, where the individuals actions and desires are kept in check by norms and values, and also by the state or government. Durkheim argues that suicide results from too much or too little of these things, presenting a fourfold typology of suicide. Egoistic suicide is caused by too little social integration, stemming from a lack of social ties within society. This type of suicide is less common during times of war according to Durkheim, as there is a stronger sense of belonging and group purpose in society. Altruistic suicide, the opposite of egoistic results from too much social integration, altruism the act of putting someone else before yourself, resulting in suicide to benefit the group you are part of. The individual feels it is their duty to die, such as an extremist Muslim taking their life to better their cult. Anomic suicide is caused by too little moral regulation, leaving the individual feeling unclear about the norms of society. An example of this is the Wall Street crash, leading to the Great Depression. Finally, Fatalistic suicide is the result of too much social regulation, where the individuals fate is controlled. This suicide type is most common among prisoners and slaves. From a positivist point of view, this classification system explains the four reasons behind suicide, and ignores the personal reasons behind suicide, so is criticised greatly by Interpretivists. Therefore this approach is only slightly useful, as it categorises four different reasons for suicide, without delving in to the specific motives behind taking ones life. A large criticism of Durkheim's positivist approach comes from Interpretivist Douglas, who takes a largely interactionalist approach, he criticises Durkheim on two main accounts. Firstly, the use of suicide statistics. The verdict of suicide is given by a coroner, and therefore bias may be incurred, such as someone who isn't very well integrated being unlikely to have friends or family to deny that they...
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