A Sociological Compass
Introduction: why need a compass for a new world
According to Aboriginals, Gluskap is the creator of the world. Bryms cleaning lady,
Lena taught him about harmony among humans and between humans and nature.
In school Brym learned about the European exploration of the New World. They
glorified the conquest of nature, and while exciting; it lacked truth in its violent
Today, with advancements in technology we too are excited about the New World.
However, our world is also dreadful with many diseases and violence.
We need a sociological compass in order to find our place in the world, and see
ourselves as part of a larger group.
Goals of this Chapter
To show that social relations powerfully influence suicide rates
Chart a better course for society and analyzing the work of founders of sociology
Help you understand your century and society
1.1 The Sociological Perspective
Suicide correlates with sociology because:
o It is related to everyone in society
o Its committed in private
o It is rare, 2006 10.8 suicides per 100,000 people in CA. compared to world
average of 16 suicides per 100,000 people.
o We think about the state of mind rather than societal causes
The Sociological Explanation of Suicide
Emile Durkheim proved that social forces strongly influence suicide rates.
He examined the association between rates of suicide and rates of psychological
disorder for different groups.
Psychological disorders are high = suicide caused by psychological disorder
He found: more women in insane asylums, however 4 male suicides per female
suicide, Jews has highest rate of psychological disorder than other religious groups
in France, but they had lowest suicide rate, psychological disorders occur at start of
adulthood, but suicide rates increase with age.
Durkheim said suicide rates vary because of difference in the degree of social
o (1) the degree to which group members share beliefs and values
o (2) the intensity and frequency of their interaction in different categories
of the population
Greater degree of beliefs/ values = more interaction = more social solidarity
More solidarity = less suicide rates Less solidarity= more suicide rates
Married people half likely to commit suicide because of social ties. Women less likely since they are involved in family life.
Jews are less likely than Christians because of persecution; theyre close knit.
Older adults more likely because theyre lonely, jobless, lost spouse & friends
Suicide in Canada Today
Durkheim- suicide rate declines and then rises as social solidarity increases.
Strong social bonds decrease the probability that a person will commit suicide if
High solidarity = altruistic suicide Eg. Soldiers who die to protect soldiers
Low solidarity = egoistic suicide-weak social ties Eg. Unemployed
= anomic suicide-vague norms govern behaviour Eg. Society lacking morality
Canada differs from France + suicide is common today due to social solidarity
Moral principles and social ties eroded during the 1960s:
o Religious service attendance decreased
Unemployment is up, especially for youth up to twice as high.
Rate of divorce increased
Social solidarity is lower, especially for youth since less society, morality.
From Personal Troubles to Social Structures
Social structures are relatively stable patterns of social relations
o 1. Microstructures are the patterns of relatively intimate social relations
formed during face-to-face interaction. Families, friendship circles, and work
associations are all examples.
Eg. People with weak connected are more likely to know different
groups of people will help you land a job
o 2. Macrostructures are overarching patterns of social relations that lie
outside and above your circle of intimates and acquaintances. It includes
classes, bureaucracies and power systems, such as patriarchy.
Eg. Government providing support for working moms who have to
do more work such as taking care of children, household, etc. =
dissatisfaction in marriage. Equal distribution of responsibilities =
o 3. Global structures are patterns of social relations that lie outside and
above the national level. They include international organizations, patterns
of worldwide travel and communication, and the economic relations
Eg. Charities dont solve world problems
The Sociological Imagination
C.W. Mills: Sociological imagination the quality of mind that enables a person to
see the connection between personal troubles and social structures.
In the past, philosophers believed God and nature controlled society not
sociological. They focused on what an ideal society should look like rather than how
society works.Origins of the Sociological Imagination
The scientific revolution began about 1550. It encouraged the view that sound
conclusions about the workings of society must be based on solid evidence, not just
o Eg. Using evidence to make a case for a point of view like when Galileo made
observations through his telescope that fit Copernicuss theory.
The democratic revolution began about 1750. It suggested that people are
responsible for organizing society and that human intervention can therefore solve
o Eg. Thus a science of society could improve it like in Europe and North
America that were shook by this revolution.
The industrial revolution the most important event in world history since the
development of agriculture and cities, refers to the rapid economic transformation
that began in Britain in the 1780s. It involved the large-scale application of science
and technology to industrial processes, the creation of factories, and the formation
of a working class.
o Eg. Working long hours, losing religion, poverty, strikes, crime, wars. Thus
people could intervene to improve society.
1.2 Theory, Research and Values
Auguste Comte coined the term sociology in 1838 he wanted to see the social
world for what it was. He wanted to adopt a scientific method for studying sociology
but he was conservative, thus his opposition to change in society was evi