Essay on Emile Durkheim

Submitted By Jonathan-Lienert
Words: 1048
Pages: 5

Emile Durkheim
1st non-German; he is French
It is an area that has gone back and forth from French and German.
It was an area that had a sense of its own identity—almost like Hawaii
His whole career was trying to establish this sociology vision as a unique way of seeing the world.
Society is more than sum of its parts
Society has a force and it is more than the sum of its individual parts
It has a standing in the world that can’t be describe by it constitutive parts
You can’t understand suicide unless you understand society from which it came.
It is not a matter of understanding individual psychology.
Society as prior to individuals who comprise it:
To understand society, to understand modernity, to understand our world; it is not sufficient to do what Weber and Marx did—to have a theory of the individual person—(Marx said it was the economic man & Weber said main is driven by religious motives) Durkheim says that you have to look at society; we can’t think of society being created by a group of individuals, society comes first and creates individuals in the image of that society.
Society comes first. There is no human nature; there is only a social nature that shapes individuals who live in that society. And that is the primary contribution of Durkheim
You have to understand the nature of society to understand individuals; you can’t start understanding individuals to understand society.
Society ex
There are certain phenomena in society that exert a force on the individuals who live in that society
The society forces people to be certain ways
Suicide: Anomic, Altruistic, Egoistic
What he wanted to do was take the toughest case of individual behavior and choice—the decision to commit suicide—and I am going to show how the decision to commit suicide is driven by social factor, not individual choice.
To understand suicide by understanding society from which the suicide comes from then I am going to show the separate realm of reality that shapes individual behavior.
He looks at suicide rate, because suicide was rampant in Europe, and there was lots of empirical data of the number of suicides by various regions in Western Europe.
And there was also lots of data collected to the religious commitment of those people who committed suicide.
If I can show that there is a variation in the suicide rate by religious domination then I can show how something that is social could affect your decision to commit suicide or not.
Religion as a social phenomenon; if suicide rate varies by religion then we would have to understand what role religion plays in influencing the suicide rate.
Durkheim finds that there is substantial variation of suicide by religion
So he finds that it really makes a different on the chances that you would commit suicide based on your religion that you are born into.
He establishes the reason why more Protestants commit suicide—it is not because it is condemned—it has to do with the nature of the community and the strength of the social ties between community members.

Social Fact—it exists; its real; the kind of social pressures (they are facts and they operate in a very powerful way in society.
Society makes demands and typically individuals comply and agree. What society expects are powerful forces and facts but they have no palpable reality; they are social forces.
Social Cohesion:
Durkheim tries to explain suicide—highest among Protestants and lowest among Catholics—by the degree of close connectedness.
Why would Protestants have a higher rate of suicide?
What he argues, in Protestant communities, Protestants organize themselves to promote individuality, not social cohesion.
Belief that everyone for their own lives.
Protestantism as a whole community says that we want to give each person autonomy to be their own person.
This type of community can be celebrated because it is designed to promote individual freedom.
But it also creates inner-loneliness.
Individuals should find