Using Material from Item a and Elsewhere, Assess Different Sociological Explanations of Suicide.

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Date Submitted: 05/14/2014 02:27 AM

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Emile Durkheim (1897) studied suicide when sociology was quite a new subject. He believed that sociology was like science which means that he uses quantitative data and is able to make correlations. Durkheim's chosen method is called multivariate analysis which is a method of gathering statistics from different societies and comparing the patterns to help explain social differences between the societies. In Durkheim's case he used suicide rates from death certificates and other official documents.

Emile Durkheim found over twenty years that suicide rates were different across different regions and different countries, religions and across the married and unmarried. This supported Durkheim's idea that there was a social explanation of suicide. To explain this Durkheim looked at social cohesion and came to the conclusion that the greater level of social integration, the more harmonious the society. Durkheim placed societies into four categories depending on their social integration. These categories are; Egoistic, Altruistic, Anomic and Fatalistic. Egoistic occurs when there is a low level of social integration, e.g. married people over single people. Altruistic occurs when there is a high level of social integration, e.g. suicide bombers. Anomic occurs when there is too little regulation, e.g. economic crisis and Fatalistic occurs when there is too much regulation, e.g. in prisons.

The internal criticisms of Durkheim are from people that agreed with his theory but had some criticisms. The criticisms are that Durkheim doesn’t provide a clear definition of social cohesion. He also claimed that Social integration was linked most closely to religion and family. However, Durkheim provides no evidence to prove this. Because he is a positivist he believes that sociology is like science where research can either prove or disprove a theory but Durkheim's methodology does not do this. Another internal criticism of Durkheim is that he relied a lot on Official Statistics but...