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Robert Brym (148)

Foundations of Sociology

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University of Toronto St. George
Robert Brym

SOC101 th September 15 , 2010 Foundations of Sociology: Emil Durkheim: wrote 1899 book about suicide; laid the foundations for sociology 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 elsewhere If not a result of pathological state, had to look beyond the minds of people 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 19 cent France Jews had low rates of suicide, but high rates of mental illness The propensity to commit suicide – a group’s 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 th Late 19 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 solidarity Circumstances shape to a degree what you will do with your life; sociology sets out to examine how social forces operate Durkheim’s Theory of Suicide: Increased social solidarity = decrease in suicide Different types of suicide: ALTRUISTIC -some people commit suicide for the greater good of the group (i.e. a soldier – high level of solidarity in the group) Person can be said to have committed altruistic suicide if for the greater good Groups of high solidarity – rates of suicide increase Society as a whole – Durkheim noticed the rate of suicide increasing in 19 cent France – said something about French society as a whole, more discontent, etc., Durkhe
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