SOCY 500 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: Social Forces

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The Sociological Perspective
-suicide appears to be an antisocial and non-antisocial act
-it is condemned by nearly everyone
-typically committed in private
-likely focus on individual’s state of mind rather than state of society
The Sociological Explanation of Suicide:
Emile Durkheim: showed that suicide rates are strongly influenced by social forces
-examined association b/w rates of suicide and rates of psychological disorders for different groups
-reasoned that psychological disorders causes suicide when suicide rates are high w/ high psychological disorders,
and low w/ low psychological disorders
analysis did not reveal this
-found more women than men in insane asylums but more men committed suicide than females
-Jews had highest rate of psychological disorders but had lowest rates of suicide
-psychological disorders occurred at maturity but suicide rates increase w/ age
-this relationship varied inversely
-argued that suicide rates varied as a result of social solidarity in different categories of the population
-the more beliefs and values a group’s members share and the more frequently and intensely they
interact, the more social solidarity the group has
-therefore, the more social solidarity they have, the less likely they are to commit suicide
-thus, Durkheim expected high-solidarity groups to have lower suicide rates than low-solidarity group, but only up
to a certain point
-showed that married adults half as likely to commit suicide as unmarried adults
-marriage creates social ties that bind the individuals to society
-women are less likely to commit suicide b/c involved in more intimate social relations in family life
-Jews less likely than Christians b/c persecution turned them into a group that is more defensive and tightly knit
-elderly more prone than the young and middle aged b/c most likely to live alone, lost a partner, lack a job and
-a person’s likelihood of committing suicide decreases w/ the degree to which he or she is anchored in society
-called suicide in high solidarity setting altruistic (ex. soldiers)
-suicide in low-solidarity settings is egotistic or anomic
-egotistic results from the poor integration of people into society b/c of weak social ties to others
-anomic occurs when vague norms govern behaviour
-likely to be high among people living in a society lacking a widely shared code of morality
Suicide in Canada Today:
-men are 4 times as likely as women are to commit suicide
-today, it is much more common among youth
-shared moral principles and strong social ties have eroded since the 1960s
-decrease in church, synagogue, mosque, and temple attendance (particularly among young people)
-unemployment is up, again especially for the youth
-rate of divorce has increased six fold
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