“Some Studies May Be More Recent, but Durkheim’s Work Remains the Most Significant Sociological Analysis of Suicide”. Assess the Extent to Which Sociological Arguments and Evidence Support This Conclusion.
The earliest sociological theory of suicide was in 1897 by Emile Durkheim, however, there is a debate between positivists and interpretivists as to whether his analysis is accurate and relevant today, regarding relationships between theory and methods, and the meanings and explanations of suicide.
Durkheim’s main explanations of suicide were to do with the individual rather than society as a single unit. His study was an empiricism that he hoped would provide a sociological explanation for a phenomenon traditionally regarded as exclusively psychological and individualistic. Taking a positivistic view on his study, Durkheim dismissed the “organico-psychic” explanations and wanted to demonstrate that social actions such as suicidal behaviour could be scientifically analysed using quantitative statistical research.
For his study, Durkheim performed a detailed analysis of the official statistics on suicide, concentrating on the degree of social cohesion within different social groups such as family, age, gender and marital status. From this analysis, the main consistent patterns he found were that suicide rates varied from country to country, there were differences in suicide rates in different geographical regions within a country, and there were differences in social groups and religious groups. He argued that these consistent patterns demonstrate that suicide is not a completely individual act, but it is influenced by social factors. The key concepts of his theory are social integration and social cohesion, and he argues that people are bonded into society in numerous ways, but believes that the two main institutions which do this are family and religion. He concluded that the closer a persons bond with their family, the closer bond they have with...