L1 INTRODUCTION: DURKHEIM AND SUICIDE
SOCIAL FORCES AND SUICIDE
Social Integration and Suicide
Social Type and Suicide
o Classical sociologist
o One of the Founding fathers of sociology
o Showed impact of social forces on behaviour
Durkheim explores the differing suicide rates among Protestants and Catholics
explaining that stronger social control among Catholics results in lower suicide
According to Durkheim, people have a certain level of attachment to their groups,
which he calls social integration.
Abnormally high or low levels of social integration may result in increased
o low levels ±
low social integration results in disorganized society, alienation
and loneliness in the individual, causing people to turn to suicide
as a last resort,
o high levels ±
cause people to kill themselves to avoid becoming burdens on
society, or because the social pressure becomes too great and
According to Durkheim, Catholic society has normal levels of integration while
Protestant society has low levels.
There are at least two problems with this interpretation.
o Durkheim took most of his data from earlier researchers, notably Adolf
Wagner and Henry Morselli, who were much more careful in generalizing
from their own data.
o later researchers found that the Protestant-Catholic differences in suicide
seemed to be limited to German-speaking Europe and thus may always
have been the spurious reflection of other factors. Despite its
Durkheim's work on suicide work has influenced proponents of control theory,
and is often mentioned as a classic sociological study
Durkheim stated that there are four types of suicide.
o Egoistic suicides
This is where people kill themselves for their own individual
occurs in societies where social bonds are weak
low level of social integration
x due to emphasis put onto individual rights, welfare and
x this society has the norms and values to think of
themselves, causing them to be more individual rather than
coming together as a society.
x These people are often encouraged (for example, by their
religions) to make their own decisions and therefore accept
x This may mean that other people of the society see it as
acceptable that a person has killed themselves due to failure
High levls Invdiaulism = Low levels of social integration
Durkheim believes there is too much individualism in modern societies therefore more
medium levels of social integration (developing countries)
London England WWII 1940- *HUPDQVERPEHG/RQGRQ¶VNLOOHG
Suicide rate actually went down during bad times and suffering (London blitz?)
Since social solidarity increased substantially
When world becomes dangerous place to live in
o (social integration increases during periods of collective crisis)
Durkheim argues that the "ego" the personality - needs to be integrated in society
in order for the ego to be healthy it needs social support
ego needs to be constrained ± by societal norms
a healthy ego needs to be submerged by a conscience- a collective will
S durkheim: classical sociologist, frenchman, one of the founding fathers of sociology, showed impact of social forces on behaviour. S durkheim explores the differing suicide rates among protestants and catholics. S explaining that stronger social control among catholics results in lower suicide rates. S according to durkheim, people have a certain level of attachment to their groups, which he calls social integration. S abnormally high or low levels of social integration may result in increased suicide rates; low levels : high levels . S low social integration results in disorganized society, alienation and loneliness in the individual, causing people to turn to suicide as a last resort, S cause people to kill themselves to avoid becoming burdens on society, or because the social pressure becomes too great and oppressive. S according to durkheim, catholic society has normal levels of integration while.