Sociological Perspectives: Suicide
appears to be an antisocial or/and non-social act
we are more focused on state of mind rather than the events that which causes the suicide
psychological disorders occur w/I adult hood but suicide increases w/ age
suicide rates vary with social solidarity ( social solidarity are groups or clicks)
The higher the solidarity the lower the suicide rates (more things in common the more
A soldier giving up his life to save a comrade.
poor integration of ppl. into society
Though Durkheim made valid points, the times have changed where children and teens are more
likely to commit suicide b/c social solidarity is lower. ( example reasons: unemployment, no religion,
divorce rate etc...)
Personal Troubles to Social Structures
Social relations effect your thoughts and feelings, influences your actions & shapes who we
social structures are stable patterns of stable relations
sociologist find and explain the connection b/w personal troubles & social structures
3 levels of social structures
Micro structures are patterns of intimate social relations during face to face interactions. (
family, friends, work etc.)
(strength of weakened ties) asking those who have no jobs will lead you to more job
possibilities b/c of variety.
Macro Structures are over arching patterns of social relations. (more of an acquaintance)
Marriages are more successful when partners share equal work.
Global Structures are patterns that lay outside and above the national level.
Neither acquaintances or friends. These structures are important as they connect us
culturally, economically & politically
Social Imaginations: is the quality of mind that enables a person to see the connection b/w
personal troubles and social structures
Origins of Social Imagination Scientific Revolution began about 1550, that the works of society must be made of solid
evidence and not just speculation. ( using evidence to back up an argument or POV)
Sociology became a distinct discipline in the 19th C.
Democratic Revolution began about 1750. Suggested that ppl. are responsible for organizing
society & human intervention can solve social problems
Industrial Revolution began in Britain in the 1780's. It created factories and formation for the
working class. Many went from country to city, loosing faith in religion and eventually caused
strikes, revolutions, crime & wars. This period presented ppl. w/ social problems.
Theory are tentative explanations od some aspects of social lie that state how & why certain facts are
Research is the process of systematically observing reality to assess the validity of a theory.
Values are ideas about what is good & bad, right or wrong.
Social Theory and Theorists
Durkheim's theory of suicide is an early example of Functionalism . Functionalist theories incorporate 4
1. They stress that relatively stable patterns of social relations or social structures, govern human
2. Functionalist theories show how social structures maintain or undermines social stability
3. Functionalist theories emphasize that social structures are based mainly on shared values or
4. Functionalism suggests that re-established equilibrium can best solve most social problems
Functionalism in North America
Functionalism was influential for north America. But it wasn't until the great depression (1929-39) that it
took deep root.
Functionalist theory was popular for about 30 yrs.
Talcott Parsons is best known for identifying how various institutions must work to ensure the smooth
operation as society as a whole.
Robert Merton purposed that social structures may have different consequences for diff. group of ppl. (
dysfunctional, manifest, latent)
It generally focuses on macro level structures, such as "class relations" or patterns of dominance
submission, & struggles b/w ppl. of low and high class.
Conflict theory shows major patterns of inequality in society produces social stability in some
circumstances and social change in others. Conflict theory stresses members of privilege groups trying to maintain their advantage while
subordinates groups struggles to increase theirs. There is an on going pwr. struggle.
Conflict theory typically leads to the suggestion that eliminates privilege will lower the level of
conflict and increase human welfare.
Conflict Theory originated from Karl Marx
Class conflict: the struggle b/w classes to resist and over come the opposition of other classes.
Marx argued that owners of industry are eager to adopt new tools, machines, and production
However, the drive for profits also causes capitalists to concentrate workers in larger and
- keep wages as low as possible, and invest as little as possible in improving working
Thus, said Marx, a large and growing class of poor workers opposes a small and shrinking
class of wealthy owners.
Marx believed that workers would ultimately become aware of belonging to the same
exploited class.( poor, middle, rich) He called this awareness “class consciousness.”
Max Weber, a German sociologist who wrote his major works a generation after Marx, was
among the first to find flaws in Marx's argument
He argued that many members of these occupational groups stabilize society because they
enjoy higher status and income than do manual workers employed in manufacturing.
Weber showed that class conflict is not the only driving force of history but politics and
religion are also important sources of historical change
Other writers pointed out that Marx did not understand how investing in technology would
make it possible for workers to toil fewer hours under less oppressive conditions. Nor did he
foresee that higher wages, better working conditions, and welfare state benefits would help
to pacify manual workers.
Conflict Theory in North America
C. Wright Mills, who laid the foundations for modern conflict theory in the 1950s.
He argued that power is highly concentrated in American society, which is therefore less of a
democracy than we are often led to believe (Mills, 1956).
conflict theory did not really take hold in North America until the 1960s Strikes, demonstrations, and riots were almost daily occurrences in the 1960s and early
1970s, and therefore many sociologists of that era thought conflict among classes, nations,
races, and generations was the very essence of society
Weber, Mead, and Goffman
Weber argued that early capitalist development was caused not just by favourable economic
circumstances but that certain religious beliefs also facilitated robust
Protestants believed their religious doubts could be reduced and a state of grace ensured if
they worked diligently and lived modestly. Weber called this belief the Protestant ethic .
capitalism developed most vigorously where the Protestant ethic took hold.
Weber emphasized the importance of empathically understanding people's motives and the
meanings they attach to things to gain a clear sense of the significance of their actions.
- He called this the Verstehen (“understanding” in German).
A century ago, people widely believed that talent and initiative could allow anyone to achieve
just about anything. Early American sociology focused on the connection between the
individual and the larger society
Functionalist and conflict theories assume that people's group memberships influence their
behaviour (social status, gender, colour)
Two people with similar group memberships may react differently to similar social circumstances
because they interpret those circumstances differently.
Symbolic interactionism incorporates these features:
focus on interpersonal communication in microlevel social settings distinguishes it from both
functionalist and conflict theories.
emphasizes that social life is possible only because people attach meanings to things.
stresses that people help to create their social circumstances and do not merely react to
them. For example, Canadian-born sociologist Erving Goffman (1922–82), one of the most
influential symbolic interactionists, analyzed the many ways people present themselves to
others in everyday life so as to appear in the best possible light.
By focusing on the subjective meanings people create in small social settings, symbolic
interactionists sometimes validate unpopular and unofficial viewpoints. This increases our
understanding and tolerance of people who may be different from us.
Social Constructionism and Queer Theory Social constructionists argue that when people interact, they typically assume things are
naturally or innately what they seem to be, but in reality, apparently natural or innate
features of life are sustained by social processes that vary historically and culturally
Queer theory denys the very existence of stable identities
―male,‖ ―female,‖ ―gay,‖ and ―lesbian‖ Such labels impose social conventions on people, thus
acting as forms of control and domination and drawing attention away from the uniqueness
of each individual.
demands placed on women by the 19th C. family and