Emile Durkheim was considered one of the greats of the sociology world. His use of scientific methodology to identify social factors which contributed to suicide has produced a foundational model for empirically based social research still relevant in sociology today. The purpose of this essay is to examine Durkheim’s study of the social causes of suicide, specifically how his theory of social integration and regulation contributed in interpreting these differences in suicide rates. This essay will argue that although heavily criticised Durkheim’s findings of the social factors which contributed to suicide are still relevant in Australia today more than a century later. In order to support this claim, firstly an overview of Durkheim’s
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This is in contrast to the Protestants who shared more of a collective conscious and enforce their strict religious and moral views throughout their community. Durkheim viewed these stronger levels of integration in the social group as the primary reason suicide rates were lower among Catholics. Durkheim also found that low levels of integration in family units impacted suicide rates with people who were single, divorced and married without children having higher suicide rates. The second and rarest type of suicide is altruistic, which is excessive integration into their social group or the individual is consumed with the external goals of the group (Jereidini & Poole, 2000). Past examples of this would be the Japanese suicide bombers from WW1 and WW2, and also Hindu woman who killed themselves at their husband’s funerals. Also modern day terrorist organisations are rising and can be classed as a form of altruistic suicide where members end their life for the greater good of the cause.
In contrast social regulation was described as the levels of control over individuals from societal forces or the extent to which the actions and or desires of an individual are constrained by moral values. Anomic suicide was described as being attributed to a lack of social regulation.. Durkheim believed this to be the major type of suicide of industrial societies, which was associated with the disturbance