SOC101Y1 Lecture Notes - Altruistic Suicide, Social Forces

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31 Jul 2011

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September 15th, 2010
Foundations of Sociology:
Emil Durkheim: wrote 1899 book about suicide; laid the foundations for
Suicide has underlying social causes that people are not aware of
Explored the relationship between rates of suicide and their rates of
mental illness any particular category of population that had high
rate of mental illness had a high rate of suicide, suicide thought to be
the result of a pathological state OR if not, Durkheim had to look
If not a result of pathological state, had to look beyond the minds of
Not why an individual would take their life, but why a particular
category would choose to do so no relationship btw the rate of mental
illness and the rate of suicide, no evidence to support the psychological
notion that suicide was the result of mental illness
For ex. Women twice as likely as men to be admitted to a mental
institution, however account for 1/3 of the suicide rate in late 19th cent
Jews had low rates of suicide, but high rates of mental illness
The propensity to commit suicide a groups level of social solidarity is
determined by the frequency with which its members interact and the
degree to which they share beliefs, values, and morals
Suicide rates are lowest at intermediate levels of social solidarity, and
highest at low and high levels of social solidarity
Late 19th cent France - majority of women busy with family life, taking
care of emotional needs of family, very frequent and intense
interactions with a number of people; men not so much (out working)
Women involved in more groups of social solidarity, as are Jews that
have been historically persecuted, thus; they have become more tightly
bound, share to a higher degree beliefs and morals
Protestants not subjected to much, very individualistic/Catholics more
collectivist, thus; we find that Protestants have a higher suicide rate
Old vs. young; higher rates of suicide among the elderly due to broken
solidarity, younger people have more interaction = higher level of
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