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Durkheim's Work in Sociology Essay

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Durkheim's Work in Sociology

"Some studies maybe more recent, but Durkheim's work remains the most
significant Sociological analysis of Suicide in modern societies"

Assess the extent to which Sociological arguments and evidence support
this claim.

In regards to Suicide it would seem perhaps more realistic to consider
the subject as an individual and personal act, a job which might seem
more suitable for Psychologists to explain, it may not seem an obvious
subject for a Sociologist to study. In the past it has been more
commonly thought that Suicide was a result of a person's mental state,
however suicide was given an all new perspective once Durkheim in 1897
used Positivist methods to study the subject. Durkheim chose this
subject in attempts to illustrate the potential of society to help
understand complex social processes. Since this time other
Socioligists have followed in Durkheim's footsteps in the study of
suicide but it is questionable whether or not other Socioligists have
made quite an impact as he did.

In Durkheim's work 'Suicide: A study in Sociology' he used statistics
from varying European countries to compare the suicide rate, Durkheim
referred to these statistics as 'Social Facts'. He found consistency
in the suicide rate in particular societies in particular times, thus
making him sure that the statistics could be used as strong evidence
in which to find trends and patterns. Durkheim himself said "The
suicide rate is therefore a factual order, unified and definite, as is
shown by both its permanence and it's variability". The trends that
Durkheim found in these statitics and social facts were such as that
...


... middle of paper ...


... types of
suicide, it is not so easy to pigeon hole somebody like that
especially in regards to such a serious topic. A suicide may fall into
more than one of these categories, For example, Bobby Sands (IRA
hunger striker) falls into all 4 categories. Where does the point of
balance fall? Although argued that Durkheim's study is dated,
Sainsbury used some of Durkheim's methods and theories in his own
study. By using a combination of both qualitative and quantitative
methods Sainsbury identified several Social Factors and emphasized the
effect of Social Integration. Therefore, although dated by todays
standards Durkheim's ideas still hold relevance and significance in
todays society, but still, in order to use Durkheim's ideas
effectively then the problems in his theories must be solved as
Sainsbury attempted to do.


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