Using material from item a and elsewhere, assess the usefulness of different sociological approaches to suicide. (21 marks)
Durkheim wrote in the 1890s and was one of the first sociologists right at the forefront of establishing and defining sociology as a scientific discipline. Durkheim argued that it was not only possible to apply scientific principles to social phenomena but that it was essential to do so in order to produce useful sociology. His 1897 book suicide: a study in sociology uses his scientific methods to explore suicide. Durkheim chooses suicide deliberately, because as the most individual, private and psychologically driven act it was considered by most not to be a social phenomenon. If sociology could identify social factors and causes of suicide, this would demonstrate the power and impact of society on individual behaviour. So in Durkheim’s view he believes our behaviour is caused by social facts and they are said to be external from the individual, constrain individuals and be greater than the individuals. After Durkheim’s analysis of official statistics on suicide it revealed some social groups are more likely to commit suicide than others. For Durkheim, the social patterns of suicide he discovered is not a random individual act but as stated by Luke’s social factors play a key role. Durkheim’s work showed a correlation between suicide and social facts like suicide rates were higher in predominantly protestant countries than in catholic ones, Jews were the religious group with the lowest suicide rate, married people were less likely to commit suicide and those with higher education had a higher suicide rate.
Durkheim said different forms of suicide related to how much integration and regulation there was in society and this would provide us with a fourfold typology. The term social integration means socialisation into the norms, values and lifestyles of social groups and society. Regulation meaning the control that society and social...
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