Student ID: 2
Assessment Name: Durkheim Suicide Assessment Number: 1
Term & Year: Term 2 & 2014
Word Count: 1821
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Emile Durkheim has been regularly regarded as the father of Sociology. His philosophy is that sociology should be a science capable of predicting certain events in society (Ritzer & Goodman, 2004). One significant work of Durkheim was his sociological theory of suicide. Since coined it has been receiving tremendous and controversial critique. This essay will endeavor to show the social causes of suicide as opposed to the individualistic causes. This essay will also address other scholars’ criticism of Durkheim’s work.
In the attempt to explain socially international cause, Durkheim placed an importance on understanding several terms including social facts, culture, division of labor, organic solidarity, collective consciousness and regulation vs. deregulation.
According to Ritzer, (2008) social facts are the social structures, cultural norms, values that are both external and coercive. Social facts also had to be seen as “things” done through gaining information that has more authority and weigh attached to it and has come through the critical process of study, research, testing and investigation (Ritzer, 2008). That is, since birth, we are taught, the unspoken routines of our families, local church organizations, social groups, universities and so forth. It is within each of these group that we learn the role that each individual plays and we should behave to survive. We also learn there are laws to obey, adhere to, or face opposition from more ways than one. For example, a member of a church would be taught Christian rules, guidelines, commandments and protocols to treat people with kindness and utter respect. In short, this entire definition of social fact is not to look at each individual, but observe the bigger psychological picture.
Durkheim has identified and divided social facts into two categories of material and non-material facts. Firstly, material facts are tangible or touchable objects. Durkheim believed that material facts can be much simpler to study and comprehend. On the other hand, non-material facts are intangible and untouchable objects such as the law. These facts are also believed to be harder to study and comprehend.
There are two major separate definitions of culture. One defines culture as a complex combination of knowledge, beliefs, arts, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of the society. Another definition views culture as a fuzzy set of basic assumptions and values, orientations to life, beliefs, policies, procedures and behavioral conventions that are shared by a group of people (Spencer-Oatey, 2012). The commonality between these two definitions is that culture is something that is both to be acquired and inherited. That is, culture is both an individual and a social construct. This means members of the same group may, and are very likely to, have both similar and different perceptions and principles. This also means that as societies evolve, culture is subject to evolution and change as they are all interconnected.