Durkheim Said 'explain One Social Fact By Another'. Did He In His Study Of Suicide

2343 words - 10 pages

"Durkheim conceived of sociology as the scientific study of a reality sui generis, a clearly defined group of phenomena different from those studied by all other sciences, biology and psychology included." The term "social fact" used often by Durkheim means "a category of facts which present very special characteristics: they consist of manners of acting, thinking, and feeling external to the individual, which are invested with a coercive power by virtue of which they exercise control over him." It was from this base that Durkheim undertook his study of Suicide.Durkheim sees social facts as absolutely objective "things" that can be analyzed and evaluated in a scientific way. From this notion ...view middle of the document...

..also specific enough not to be found elsewhere and also sufficiently kin to those commonly called suicides for us to retain the same term without breaking with common usage." He after some times arrived as this definition "Suicide is applied to all cases of death resulting directly or indirectly from a positive or negative act of the victim himself, which he knows will produce this result."Next Durkheim looks at explanation of suicide that fell outside of the realm of sociology that were significant enough to impact upon the national rate of suicide. He found here that "individual psychological constitution there might exist an inclination varying from country to country, which directly leads people to commit suicide. He also states that the external physical environment may have an impact." He works through numerous possibly examples from the above two non-sociological factors that may contribute to suicide rates. He finds, in tune with his general theoretical commitment that "the thought of an act is never sufficient to produce the act itself unless the person thinking is already so disposed" or that without the involvement of social factors individuals wouldn't committee suicide.Having removed the possibility that suicide can be explained by non-sociological means he set to "determine the nature of the social causes" for suicide and also, the way in which they produce their effects and their relations to those individual conditions normally associated with the different kinds of suicide.At this point Durkheim considered that their "may not be one 'single, indestructible' suicidal tendency but rather several" . Given the absence of sufficiently objective evidence as to, the state of individuals prior to them committing suicide he was forced to operate in a more "morphological system of classification." This required him to find the causes of suicides and from this establish the different types or classification necessary to explain suicide. This of course assumes there were as many causes of suicide as 'types' or 'species'. He proposes to do this by "first seeking the social conditions responsible for different types of suicide; [we will] then group these conditions in a number of separate classes by their resemblances and differences, and we shall be sure that a specific type of suicide will correspond to each of these classes."Durkheim attempts to uncover the causes of suicide via evaluating what he calls the "states of the various social environment". In this he means that to explain the causes of suicide you must evaluate "religious confessions, familial and political society and occupational groups" because variations in suicide rates occur amongst these social groups. Seeing these factors as the most likely place where he will be able to decipher causes of suicide and subsequently he can build classifications of different types of suicide from this.Durkheim finds in the case of Religion that Protestants are more likely to committee...

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