Sociology and Suicide Essay examples

3276 Words Mar 13th, 2011 14 Pages
‘’How has Sociology contributed to our understanding of ‘Suicide’”?


The essay will attempt to evaluate and assess how the various theoretical perspectives within sociology have contributed to our understanding of the deviant, individual act of ‘suicide’. This will be achieved by defining and evaluating ‘functionalism’, a ‘macro perspective’ and the application of this functionalistic approach formulated by Emile Durkheim, to the social phenomenon of ‘suicide’. Criticisms in relation to Durkheims’s study will also be evaluated, drawing upon other ‘Positivist’ theories and contrasting, ‘Interpretive’ theories of ‘suicide’, such as ‘Symbolic Interactionism’, a ‘micro perspective’; who’s principles were originally formulated
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Through socialization and education these rules become internalized in the conscience of the individual. These social constraints and guides become moral obligations to obey social rules and regulations, which results in social integration. The greater the level of ‘social integration’, the more harmonious the society (Moore et al, 2002, pp 279:3).

In his approach to deviance and criminality, Durkheim departed from the conventional path. Previously, most criminologists perceived crime as a pathological or physiological phenomenon, seeking psychological or biological causalities in the mind and body of the criminal and essentially neglected to consider external forces. Durkheim viewed crime as normal in terms of its consequences. Crime was normal, in that no society could enforce total conformity to its injunctions. If society could, it would be so repressive as to leave no leeway for the social contributions of individuals. He saw deviance from the norms of society as necessary if society is to remain flexible and open to change and adaptation (Coser, 1977). His most notable ‘positivistic’ study, ‘Suicide’ was first published in 1897. ‘Positivism’ attempts to emulate the scientific process of analysing evidence and apply this framework to humans and their behaviour. Essentially, observing measurable statistical information, in an attempt to establish human

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