Durkheim takes a positivist approach to study suicide through quantitative data
Found- suicide rate for given society remain constant, different societies has different rates, rates varied between social groups
E.g. married people with children has lower rate than single
Concluded, patterns were evidence that suicide could not be result of motives of individuals
Durkheim explained suicide rate as a result of social facts or forces which act upon individuals.
Identified ‘4 different types of suicide’
In which 2 social facts determine rate of suicide
Social integration- individual experiences a sense of belonging to a group
Moral regulation- individuals actions and desires are kept in check by norms and values
Suicide = too much or too little social integration + moral regulation
First type of suicide= Egoistic- too little social integration
Lack of social ties – most common type of suicide in modern society
Explains low rate of suicide among Catholics – close knit, protestant – freedom
Unmarried and childless have little integration into family- more prone to suicide
Second type of suicide= Altruistic- too much social integration – opposite of egoistic suicide
Individual sacrifices own life as a sense of duty- has little duty
Illustrated by Suttee- where individuals were expected to perform sati- throw themselves on their husbands burning funeral pyre to not be a burden on the family
Third type of suicide= Anomic- too little moral regulation – society doesn’t regulate its individuals sufficiently
Traditional norms and values are disputed by rapid social change providing uncertainty in individuals as to what society expects of them.
Rates rise during times of economic slumps- wall street stock exchange crash= depression= suicide
Fourth type of suicide= fatalistic- too much moral regulation – individual feels that they can do nothing to affect their situation
Slaves and prisoners are most likely to experience this.
Paragraph 2- Evaluation of Durkheim’s study – ADV + DISADV
Adv. of Durkheim’s Study
Disadv. Of Durkheim’s Study
Theory is simple and focused- allowing him to study groups accurately= accurate results to support study
Theory is logical- easily explain many suicides + differences between cultures.
Gibbs + martin- theories aren’t precise + idea of social integration is poorly defined
fails to consider most reasons for suicide too vague + doesn’t consider multiple influences on an individual behavior
Findings are unrepresentative – unable to generalize as his findings on European countries- as it was found in 19th century- no longer apply to modern society.
Altruistic suicide- outdated or irrelevant in most western societies – In today’s society- fulfil one’s own selfish desires
Categories based on Christian religions and societies- irrelevant to rest of the world.
Only 4 categories- not possible, as every suicidal act is unique- interpretivists= cannot be categorised + reasons vary on why the deceased committed suicide.
Social suicidal behavior cannot be blames solely on two factors of social integration and moral regulation- both are structural
Ignoring psychological factors based on relationships
Halbwachs et al found – important differences other than religion
E.g. social disorganization, urban dwelling + people living alone- only 4 factors are not the only reasons why people commit suicide.
Durkheim- too deterministic as it proposed societal factors cause an individual to kill themselves- freedom.
Douglas criticizes Durkheim- on 2 grounds
1. Use of statistics – whether they should be relied on- decision to classify a death as a suicide depends on coroners – influenced by family and friends= bias verdicts
Explains high level of integration + low level of suicide rates- as well integrated people have friends and families – deny death as a suicide because of own feeling of guilt.