A N Assessment Of Durkheim Essay
& # 8217 ; s Theory Of Suicide Essay, Research PaperUnlike most others before him who believed that influences such as familial mental upset are of paramount importance in doing self-destruction, Emile Durkheim chose to look alternatively at suicide strictly as a societal fact, instead that the act of an person. Through analysis of authorities figures on self-destruction rates, Durkheim tried to mensurate and explicate suicide as a societal phenomena.
In his book, & # 8220 ; Suicide: a survey in sociology & # 8221 ; , Durkheim was critical of both physical an psychological accounts of self-destruction as he claimed that neither accounted for the stableness f self-destruction rates over clip and infinite, and in looking at the act of self-destruction as a societal phenomena, Durkheim developed a manner of analyzing the societal universe that was both alone to him at the clip, and of continued importance to this twenty-four hours. At the clip predating Durkheim & # 8217 ; s Hagiographas on self-destruction ( published 1897 ) , increasing rates of self-destruction had led to great guess as to what was the cause, the chief organic structure of idea being that societal alteration was an of import factor in finding suicide rates. Durkheim, about ten old ages before he wrote & # 8220 ; Suicide & # 8221 ; , stated that, & # 8220 ; & # 8230 ; it is rather certain that a consistent addition in self-destructions ever attests to a serious turbulence in the organic conditions of society & # 8230 ; & # 8221 ; and attempted to turn out this through scrutiny of official authorities statistics on self-destruction rates in Europe. From his analysis of these figures, Durkheim made three decisions: that self-destruction rates remain changeless over clip in any one society, altering merely in times of societal alteration and turbulence ; that self-destruction rates differ between societies ; and that suicide rates differ within groups in any one society. One of Durkheim & # 8217 ; s greatest parts to the survey of sociology was his methods for & # 8216 ; variable analysis & # 8217 ; , that is, his efforts to mensurate the effects of assorted variables on others. For illustration, Durkheim believed that faith was an of import factor in finding suicide rates, and hence he attempted to turn out this by the riddance of other variables that may hold been a causational factor in self-destruction. First he examined the differences in suicide rates between Catholics and Protestants in the same state and found that systematically there was a higher rate of self-destructions among Protestants than among Catholics.
He so took this analysis still further and examined whether the relationship was still relevant within parts. He discovered that part and national civilization were non relevant and therefore he could so claim that the relationship between faith and self-destruction was one of a causational nature. Through methodological analysis such as this, Durkheim was able to detect what he claimed were three basic types of self-destruction. Egotistic self-destruction, he believed, is the most common signifier of self-destruction and was caused by under-integration with society, and inordinate individuality. He based this theory on the find that self-destruction was less common among married people with kids ( although dislocation of the household will do suicide probably ) ; in wartime when there was a common cause to unite people ; and within faiths such as Catholicism, due to beliefs of that peculiar faith that condemns suicide as a wickedness against their God. Altruistic self-destruction, which for Durkheim is the antonym of narcissistic self-destruction, is caused by over integrating with society, when persons become so immersed into their societal group that they will give their lives. This could be seen in the yesteryear when Hindu adult females threw themselves on their hubby & # 8217 ; s funeral pyre, or in the Acts of the Apostless of the Nipponese kamikaze pilots during the 2nd universe war, both can be said to be a consequence of deficient individuality. Durkheim & # 8217 ; s 3rd type of self-destruction is termed as Anomic self-destruction, and occurs at times such as the & # 8216 ; Wall Street Crash & # 8217 ; in America during 1927, when economic alteration disrupts the societal order and a province of anomy or normlessness seems to be, but self-destruction of this type can besides happen at times of great prosperity.
Durkheim would hold seen these illustration to be utmost, nevertheless, and concerned himself more with the gradual pathological addition in suicide rates due to modern society puting greater accent on individuality, and less importance on imposts and traditions. Durkheim so, placed great importance in one individual societal factor & # 8211 ; the internal coherence and integrating of the societal group. The societal jurisprudence the Durkheim believed to be and act upon the Acts of the Apostless of persons is one of a causal nature, and he believed it to be that, & # 8220 ; & # 8230 ; suicide varies reciprocally with the grade of integrating of the societal groups of which the person pays a part. & # 8221 ; However, these position on self-destruction are non without unfavorable judgment, as many sociologists would claim that Durkheim, although puting great importance on the grade of integrating with society, did non specify this in a manner that made it possible to measure integration. It has also been suggested by sociologists preferring more interpretive methodology, hat Durkheim’s use of official governmental statistics invalidates his study somewhat, as individuals are, after their deaths, according to Atkinson, labelled as suicides merely because of a set of pre-judgemental – and perhaps incorrect – assumptions made by coroners. Atkinson studied a number of coronary reports and found that four things were taken into account before labelling a death as a suicide: whether a note stating intent to take one’s own life had been left; whether threats of suicide had been made prior to the death; the mode of death, and the biography of the individual. However, he says that these four considerations are not even universally applied by coroners, as different coroners place more emphasis on one factor than another.
A further criticism made of Durkheim’s use of official statistics is that it has been suggested that the intention of a number of suicides is not to die, but a cry for help, or even an example of risk taking behaviour. Risk taking behaviour, according to Stengel, is when an individual does not know whether they want to live or die, and so attempts to leave his or her life in the hands of God, fate or luck, depending on belief. He based this theory on the two basic observations that most suicidal acts are preceded by warnings and threats, and that most suicidal acts allow for intervention. If this is the case, then the official statistics that Durkheim used would not have been adequate measures of what they were supposed to measure, and therefore invalidate Durkheim’s work to a great extent. It is also important to consider when evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of Durkheim’s theory on suicide that suicides were more likely to be reported at that time when they occurred in cities and towns; and more likely to be reported as such in protestant countries rather than catholic countries, often because people would try to hide the real facts as suicide was perceived as shameful. This would mean that the statistics used by Durkheim in developing his theories would be far from reliable. Durkheim’s decision to look at suicide as a social fact was also very controversial, as the majority of writers before him believed suicide to be one of the most individual acts that can be undertaken.
Durkheim believed that in studying all acts of the individual, certain social influences could be found to cause behaviour. He came to this conclusion because he found that suicide rates remained constant over time, and because there seems to be no set event in life that serves as a pretext for someone to kill him or herself. Durkheim stated that, “One man kills himself in the midst of affluence, another in the lap of poverty; one was unhappy in his home, and another had just ended by divorce a marriage which was making him unhappy. In one case a soldier ends his life after being punished for a crime he did not commit; in another, a criminal whose crime has gone unpunished.” Therefore the causes of suicide, concluded Durkheim, must have causes external to the individual. In his work on suicide, Durkheim is particularly critical of the work of Drobisch, who claims that the suicide rates remain constant because of there being an equal amount of, “…unhappy marriages, bankruptcies, disappointed ambitions, cases of poverty, etc.
” as Durkheim believes that not all persons faced with situations such as this commit suicide, and therefore there must be an underlying social cause. He fails to explain, however, why in situations of social upheaval and change, some people commit suicide, while others do not. For the reasons discussed above, Durkheim’s work appears to be fundamentally different to the majority of works on suicide, as most other writers regard suicide as an individual act, caused by factors internal to the individual.
By looking at suicide purely as a social fact, Durkheim effectively created a completely different and uniquely sociological point of view from which to assess the causes of social phenomena. However, in creating this ‘uniquely sociological’ form of analysis, Durkheim has been criticised by writers such as Lukes, who believe that in examining suicide, it should be seen that there is a interlinking relationship between societal and individual factors. Other writers suggest that Durkheim is also incorrect in his attempts to use information on groups of people to make assumptions at to the rest of the society. Although Durkheim’s work on suicide has been heavily criticised, however, his work is still regarded with respect for its systematic analysis of data, if not for its content, and his methodology is still to this day a great influence on the way that many sociologists study areas such as criminology.
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