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Introduction-Sociology as a Life or Death Issue Ch.1 Sept 10 2008

Course Code
Sheldon Ungar

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y Determinism: the belief that everything happens the way it does because it was destined to
happen in just that way
y Voluntarism: the belief that we alone control our destiny
y Suicide:
y Many believe is due to nonsocial, antisocial, and deep psychological distress
y Durkheim proposed that suicide is influenced by the social relations in which you are
embedded (frequency of interactions with others)
y EX:
y Married couples: adults half likely to commit suicide (marriage creates social ties, moral
cement that bounds individuals to society)
y Women less likely to commit suicide (more involved in family social relations)
y Jews less likely then Catholics to commit suicide due to tightly knit societies post eras of
y Elderly are more likely to commit suicide due to lack of job, friends, relations, loss of spouse
y Social ties are in general weakening today, because ppl. share fewer beliefs, values, and
moral standards then they used to
y Low Solidarity: societies that share few beliefs, values, and morals, therefore experience
higher rates of suicide
y Intermediate Solidarity: if we want suicide rates to decrease, we must find more ways of
increasing social ties.
y Ex: universal daycare- more children receiving quality supervision, and exposed to more
socializing, more parents able to work, be paid, and establish more social tires with
workmates (thus raising social solidarity)
y High Solidarity: when members of social groups perceive that the group is threatened, they
are likely to be willing to sacrifice their lives to protect them
y The Sociological Explanation of Suicide
y Suicide rates and rates of psychological disorders do not vary proportionately
y Durkheim argued- suicide rates vary because of differences in the degree of social solidarity
in different groups
y The more a groups members and share beliefs and values, and the more frequently and
i9ntensely they interact, the more social solidarity there is in that group (anchoring
individuals to society, less likely for suicidal tendencies)
y Ex: married adults, women/men, Jews/Catholics, young/elderly
y Altruistic Suicide: occurs when norms tightly govern behavior (ex: soldier gives up life to save
other soldiers life - jumping in front of grenade)
y Egoistic: results from lack of integration in society (weak social ties)
y Anomic: occurs when norms governing behavior are vaguely defined (when ppl. Live in
society that lack shared moral/norms, anomic suicide = high)
y From Personal Troubles To Social Structures
y Social Structures: stable patterns of social relations
y (I) Microstructures: patterns of intimate social relations, formed during face to face
interactions (ex: fam, friends, work associates) (ex: finding job)
y (II) Macrostructures: social relations that lay outside and above your circle of intimate
y Macrostructures include class relations and=
y -> Patriarchy: economic and political inequality between women and men in most
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