Durkheim's Success in Using the Scientific Method

1318 Words6 Pages
Durkheim's Success in Using the Scientific Method In this essay I will discuss some of the approaches to the study of suicide and its social causes described by Durkheim. I will then present a few alternative theories or critiques of Durkheim; and finally conclude with a Personal reflection on Durkheim`s analysis. Durkheim believed that society is a part of nature, and a science of society has to be based upon the same logical principles as those which obtain in natural science. Therefore Durkheim set out to prove that sociology was a science by applying his theory to the study of suicide. The study of suicide is seen as particularly important because it illustrates the wider theoretical and methodological debates in sociology. The study of suicide, by Durkheim was based on using statistics from several countries and looked for causes of suicide. This illustrates the positive approach. Later studies such as those by Atkinson and Douglas use interpretative and phenomenological approaches, which question the value of statistics and the idea of causes and try instead to understand how meanings are attached to actions. The positivist approach in sociology is based on using the methodology of the natural sciences as far as possible. This was part of an attempt to establish sociology as an important academic discipline, since science was seen as the highest form of knowledge. Durkheim wanted to counter the then current explanations of suicide, which were usually based on individuals, by showing that suicide could be explained at the level of society; he wanted to show that one of the most individual acts a person could perform... ... middle of paper ... ...bias. This view could be taken because Durkheim himself was a Catholic when he was discussing the role of values and morality within Catholicism as being superior. On the other hand Durkheim’s approach has been useful in that other sociologists can learn from his methodology and the drawbacks in it. Bibliography Atkinson, J.M. “Discovering Suicide” – London Macmillan, (1978) Bilton, T et al “Introductory Sociology” Macmillan (1981) Durkheim, Emile (1858-1917). Suicide: a study in sociology London: Routledge & K Gibbs, Jack P., & Walter T. Martin. “Status integration and suicide; a sociological study” University of Oregon Books, (1964) Luke’s, S “Emile Durkheim” - Penguin Press (1973) O’Donnell, M “A New Introductory to Sociology” Nelson (1992)

More about Durkheim's Success in Using the Scientific Method

Open Document