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Emile Durkheim and Concepts of Suicide

  • Date Submitted: 10/03/2012 10:26 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 31 
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Emile Durkheim (1858-1917), is considered to be one of the “Fathers” of sociology.   Durkheim was the founder of the field sociology based on his definition of its subject matter and its methodology. (Farganis, 2011)   He dedicated his life to establish the field of sociology by demonstrating how social phenomena could be studied empirically and not discussed speculatively.   It was based on his efforts that sociology was recognized as its own discipline separated from philosophy and psychology.   During his lifetime, Emile Durkheim gave many lectures, and published an impressive number of sociological studies on subjects such as religion, suicide, and all aspects of society.  
Emile Durkheim was born in eastern France at Epinal in 1858.   His family was from a long line of rabbis; originally he had also planned to become a rabbi, but became an Agnostic later in life.   In 1913, in his position as a professor at the Sorbonne, one of France’s most prestigious academic institutions, Durkheim was officially identified as the first official sociologist in France. (Farganis, 2011)

Durkheim’s goal to differentiate sociology from psychology is perhaps seen best in this work on how social facts can be used to explain suicide rates.   Social facts are the social structures and cultural norms and values that are external to and coercive over, individuals.   Social facts are not attached to any particular individual; nor are they reducible to individual consciousness.   According to Durkheim, two different types of social facts exist:   material and immaterial.   Durkheim believed that the tendency to commit suicide depended on the nature of the individual’s relation to society and that this phenomenon although an individual action, could demonstrate that there may be social causes associated to the act.  
Durkheim argues that two social facts, in particular, influence suicide rates:   integration, or the strength of attachment people feel to society, and regulation, or the...

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