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David Emil Durkheim And The Social Causes Of Suicide

1945 words - 8 pages

David Emil Durkheim is a renowned sociologist and also France’s first professor of sociology. Born on 15th, April in France, he successfully advocated for sociology to be recognized as an academic discipline. He did his first recognizable work titled ‘The division of labor in society’ in 1893 and then started the first European department sociology in a university in his homeland of France.

David Durkheim's main concern was to try and understand how communities could maintain their integrity and coherence in the modern era where common religions and ethnic backgrounds were stumbling blocks. He went ahead and developed many other sociology theories and arguments until his death in 1917. Some of his famous published work includes social stratification, sociology of knowledge, deviance and religion. But one of the most outstanding and fascinating of his work is suicide which was published in 1897 (Calhoun, 2002).

How Durkheim was able to show the social causes of suicide.
Durkheim compares the suicide rates among different categories of people both in individual levels and in the community at large. He treats suicide as a social fact explaining its occurrence by the use of social facts like; lack of group attachment and lack of behavior regulation. In personal perspective he argued that suicide is a personal act that involves personal psychology and purely individual thoughts. His explanations on suicide were partly hindered by unavailability of very precise or complete statistical data. He went ahead and described suicide as caused by factors like climate, race, mental illness, hereditary and imitation (Sociology 250, 1999).

Durkheim was able to show the social cause of suicide by observing and studying on varying social groups of people. He observed that the suicide rates differ among societies and their demarcation. He argued that counting the numbers of people who commit suicide in a certain age group or sex would show the levels and aptitude of suicide. The rate rises or lowers in certain times in certain generation of people from certain sex. Thus each society contributes to certain proportions of suicides in a manner that portrays uniformity.
How Durkheim interpreted the differences in suicide rates using his theory of social integration and regulatory functions of society
Durkheim tried to analyses how weather changes can affect an individual socially. He argued that suicides increased from January to July in France because the social life became more intense. His explanation was that big changes in climate can bring about suicide. He noted that suicide rate in all countries are higher during the summer. This observation triggered some scientist to conclude that heat increases the sensitivity of the nervous system. He also observes that cold countries record fewer cases of suicides than warm countries, thus suicides rates are highest just before the temperatures reaches their climax.
With all the observations and...

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