Durkheims approach to sociological analysis Essay

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Outline the chief characteristics of Durkheim ‘s attack to sociological analysis, and discourse how this may be used to understand suicide rate.

Durkheim was a Gallic rationalist, with an accent on functionalism, which revolves around a biological analogy where in society, is seen as an organic whole with each constituent working to keep the others, similar to the human organic structure. Its chief involvement is seeing how these parts create a stable whole.

One of the chief countries of Durkheims attack is the focal point on societal facts, these are societal phenomena and ways of thought and behaving that restrain persons in some mode or other and can include establishments such as the province and instruction. They appear from jointly formed regulations and patterns, be they spiritual or secular and are beyond our control as persons. Because of these societal facts persons have littler or no control over their ain actions, instead than building their ain universe they are directed by the system as society needs certain societal behaviors and phenomena to last. These societal facts are passed on from coevals to coevals and shared among the persons. From this position it is non single will that drives behaviors but instead the common norms and values of society that form 1s consciousness. “ Not merely are these types of behavior and believing external to the person, but they are endued with a compelling and coercive power by virtuousness of which, whether he wishes it or non, they impose themselves upon him ” ( Durkheim, 1895 pp50 ) . These societal facts form the footing of a corporate consciousness, which Durkheim sees as ‘the organic structure of beliefs and sentiments common to the mean members of a society ‘ ( Durkheim, 1893 ) . This corporate consciousness promotes solidarity, hammering a common bond between persons in a society, making a signifier of order and stableness. Without a signifier of moral consensus there would be struggle and perturb “ From where involvement is the lone opinion for each single finds himself in a province of was with every other ” ( Durkheim, 1973, p89 ) Since the corporate consciousness is a societal fact it excessively constrains persons to move in footings of the greater good and for the good of the society and is profoundly imprinted on the person as without it there would be no society as we know it. These societal facts can hold jobs if they regulate excessively much or non plenty, without adequate control the person would give in to their ain wants and desires, with excessively much they would experience pent-up, necessarily both will take to deviance, that being traveling against the norms and values of society.

From a corporate consciousness come two signifiers of solidarity, organic and mechanical. Organic solidarity is based upon a dependance that persons in an advanced society topographic point on each other. It is common among societies where the division of labour is high. Though persons perform different undertakings and frequently have different values and involvements, the order and endurance of society depends on their trust on each other to execute their specific undertakings. Mechanical solidarity on the other manus is based upon the similarities among persons in a society, within it people feel connected through similar work, instruction and spiritual patterns. It chiefly exists in societies that possess a low division of labor where this is small mutuality between persons and where there is a basic or deficiency of administration and compared to societies with organic solidarity there is more value placed on faith, society and its involvements and there is a greater corporate consciousness and less emphasise placed on individuality, that being where you count yourself as an person instead than portion of a group, seting yourself first etc ( Haralambos 2004 pp? ? ) . From organic solidarity and individuality can come anomie, this is a sense of normlessness, where norms themselves are ill-defined, interrupt down or unregulated “ If the regulations of the connubial morality lose their authorization, and the common duties of hubby and married woman become less well-thought-of, the emotions and appetencies ruled by this sector of morality will go unrestricted and uncontained, and accentuated by this really release ; powerless to carry through themselves because they have been freed from all restrictions, these emotions will bring forth a disenchantment which manifests itself visibly… ” ( Durkheim, 1972, p. 173 ) He noted that it was common in societies that possessed a less defined corporate consciousness and a higher sum of individuality ” … The province of anomy is impossible whenever interdependent variety meats are sufficiently in contact and sufficiently extended. If they are close to each other, they are readily cognizant, in every state of affairs, of the demand which they have of one-another, and accordingly they have an active and lasting feeling of common dependance. “ ( Durkheim, 1895, p184 )

Imbalances in the sum of ordinance caused by societal facts and the sum of integrating from solidarity are one of the chief factors within self-destruction, less advanced societies holding excessively much integrating and ordinance and industrial societies have excessively littler of either. Durkheim said that self-destruction was a societal act, non wholly an single one go arounding around the relationships between the person and society. He found that there was a correlativity between the self-destruction rate and assorted societal facts. For illustration he found that suicide rates were higher in Protestant states than Catholic 1s, he besides found that there was a low rate during times of societal and political turbulence due to the sum of solidarity that such events creates ( Durkheim in Marsh, pp66-69 ) . He laid out four types of self-destruction, depending on the grade that persons were involved in society and on the grade that their behavior was regulated. The four types being egocentric, alienated, selfless and fatalistic. Egoistic self-destruction is common in industrial societies with high sums of division of labor and comes from a high sum of individuality, which stems from a low sum of integrating due to a weak corporate consciousness from the societal groups from which they originally belonged ; in consequence society allows the person to get away it “ In this instance the bond attaching adult male to life relaxes because that attaching himself to society is itself slack ” ( Durkheim in Marsh pp67 ) . This kind of self-destruction Durkheim said accounted for the differences of suicide rates between Protestants and Catholics, with Catholicism ‘s demanding a higher sum of conformance, in comparing to the Protestant church that encouraged the person to construe the spiritual texts in their ain manner without stigma. Another type of suicide common in industrial societies is alienated which consequences from a low sum of ordinance. It occurs when norms and values are disrupted by societal alteration, securing feelings of uncertainness within the person. “ Whenever serious readjustments take topographic point in the societal order, whether or non due to a sudden growing or to an unexpected calamity, work forces are more inclined to self devastation ” ( Durkheim in K. Thompson, 1971, pp109 ) Durkheim found that suicide rates rose during positive every bit good as negative waies of societal alteration. He noted that there was a rise after the clang of the Paris stock exchange in 1882 and the conquering of Rome in 1870 by Victor-Emmanuel which resulted in lifting wages and life criterions but besides a rise in the self-destruction rate.

On the opposite side of the spectrum is selfless self-destruction that comes from a high sum of integrating and strong feeling of society and solid corporate consciousness. This signifier of self-destruction is largely present in pre-industrial societies who possess mechanical solidarity. This was seen as a ego forfeit for the good of the group “ This forfeit so is imposed by society for societal terminals ” ( Durkheim in Marsh, pp68 ) . It is non done because it seen as the best option but more out of a sense of responsibility to said group. For person to make such an act out of responsibility so they must hold small self worth, the single being to the full submerged into a group and feeling like merely a portion of a greater thing, therefore extremely incorporate. “ For society to be able to oblige some of its members to kill themselves, the single personality can hold small value. For every bit shortly as the latter Begins to organize, the right to existence is the first conceded ” ( Ibid, pp68 ) Various illustrations of this can be seen throughout history, Vikings considers it dishonorable to decease of old age or illness and so ended their ain lives to avoid societal shame. Durkheim placed no importance on fatalistic self-destruction, stating that it had more topographic point in history than in modern societies. It occurred when society restricted an person so much that they were repressed, experiencing that they had no hereafters or dreams.

One of the major unfavorable judgments of Durkheim ‘s analysis is his constructs of integrating and ordinance. Durkheim gives no intimation as to how one would mensurate integrating or ordinance for illustration – he merely asks us to presume that such “ implicit in ” constructs are important in relation to the account of self-destruction. He assumes that self-destructive behavior consequences from a divergence from normal degrees of integrating and ordinance. We are given no thought what precisely is a normal degree, so we can non state what sum of ordinance and integrating is normal or unnatural ( Web ref 1 ) . However with some work, it could be possible to come up with assorted trial relating to theses constructs, so that we could mensurate them among different groups in society. A 2nd unfavorable judgment is that his work on self-destruction is based upon official statistics from the nineteenth century He gives us small thought about the dependability of the beginning of the statistics and the methods used in entering them could non be up to rub, some could be incorrect, since they were manus written things could be misread and so on. Another factor is that the finding of suicide involves is procedure of reading by legion people such as police officers, physicians, medical examiners etc ( Ibid ) . In this regard, we have no existent manner of finding either the dependability or cogency of suicide statistics. The medical examiner is the 1 who decides whether decease was due to suicide or non and assorted factors can rock his judgement towards it non being so. The person ‘s finding of fact depends on their mentality on their work and on their mentality on self-destruction. Some would be thorough in the probe whilst others would be concerned about non irrupting upon the rights and feelings of the lasting relations. For illustration if the victim was Catholic, since traditionally the Catholic Church position self-destruction as a wickedness, the medical examiner may good do his determination based on the consequence that the stigma that a suicide finding of fact carries may hold on the relations. It is known that medical examiners in Catholic states such as Italy and Mexico are more-reluctant to sort a leery decease as self-destruction than medical examiners in non-Catholic states. Another fact is that some states suicide is classified as a offense, in such states, medical examiners tend to be more-reluctant to sort a decease as self-destruction than in states where such a jurisprudence does non use, for illustration when self-destruction was illegal in Britain the penalty was that asleep belongings would be ceased by the province, so it would be justifiable to hold a self-destruction as something else to debar any more calamity. Besides where the victim was insured against decease, medical examiners tend to be less likely to sort decease as self-destruction than in cases where there is none, as such an act can invalidate the coverage. One concluding unfavorable judgment is that he does non take into expression into single action as a cause ; nevertheless he does briefly admit it but claims that it has no portion in sociology ( Ibid )


  • Durkheim, E ( 1973 ) . Moral Education. Macmillan USA
  • Durkheim, E ( 1975 ) . On Morality and Society. revised erectile dysfunction. Chicago: Chicago University Press
  • Durkheim, E ( 1982 ) . The Rules of the Sociological Method. revised erectile dysfunction. London: The Free Press.
  • Durkheim, E ( 1997 ) . The Division of Labour in Society. revised erectile dysfunction. London: The Free Press
  • Haralambos and Holborn ( 2004 ) . Sociology subjects and positions. 6th erectile dysfunction. London: Collin
  • Marsh.I ( 1998 ) . Authoritative and Contemporary Readings in Sociology. London: Pretince Hall.
  • Thompson.K and Tunstall.J ( 1983 ) . Sociological Perspectives. 9th erectile dysfunction. London: Penguin Books

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