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University of Toronto St. George
Robert Brym

Lecture 1 (slides at: notes: life is finite, so we are compelled to make decisions. Since our time is limited we must try to avoid making mistakes Durkheim wrote the seminal book of sociology : "Suicide", and suicide is a very anti-social act (also rare). Main argument was that the rate of suicide (per 100 000 ppl) in any given category of population, is a function not so much of the s tate of mind of the ppl commiting suicide, rather it is a measure of the society 's relationships. (women suffer 3 times neurosphimia than men, yet men commit suicide much more of ten) (between religions he found protestans to be most suicidal, yet jewish ppl had m ore neurosphimia) He didnt find positive correlations. THUS social relations are different in different categories of population. So de pending on the level of psychological distress and social distress determines ch ances of suicide of an individual.the higher the level of SOCIAL SOLIDARITY, the less inclined ppl are to commit suicide, e.g. married ppl compared to single pp l. ppl better anchored to society can resist taking his life. (protestants were likely to commit suicide during the 1900s, because its beliefs were centred arou nd individualisms (solitary) ) Catholism had a central dogma, with ppl being gui ded by say the pope and so they had more unity. Jews were already being persecut ed and thus were a tightly knit group (which acted as a safeguard against psych distress). Durkhiem decided to examine different aspects of social relations, so cial solidarity being just one of them. we ask why the rate of doing something i s different in different categories in diff. populations, rather than individual s. When social solidarity increases to extreme levels, it can lead to high level of suicides too, being called altruistic(good of the group) suicide, e.g. a battal ion of soldiers (one can save comrades by protecting them at the cost of oneself , say from a grenade) Armi
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