SOC101Y1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: The Sociological Imagination, Altruistic Suicide, Scientific Revolution

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11 Nov 2012
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New Society-Chapter 1
The sociological Explanation of Suicide
Emile Durkheim (1897-1951) demonstrated that suicide is more than an
individual act of desperation resulting from a psychological disorder
o Suicide rates are strongly influenced social forces
o Examined the association between suicide rates and rates of psychological
disorders in different groups
Reasoned the idea that psychological disorder causes suicide is
supported only if suicide rates tend to be high where rates of
psychological disorder are high
Research revealed nothing of the kind asylums, but 4 male
suicides for every 1 female suicide
Jews had more psychological disorders than the other main
religious groups in France, but the lowest suicide rate
Psychological disorder occurred most frequently when reached
maturity, but suicide rates increased with age
Therefore suicide rates and rates of psychological disorders vary
un proportionately
Argues: suicide rates vary because of differences in social solidarity in different
groups
o The more group members share beliefs and values, and the more
frequently and intensely they interact, the more social solidarity there is in
the group
o The more people are anchored to their social world
o Therefore less likely to commit suicide
o Therefore suicide rates low when social solidarity high
*Graph*
Altruistic suicide: when norms tightly govern behaviour therefore individual
actions are in the groups interest
o Soldier sacrificing himself to save another
Egoistic suicide: lack of integration of the individual into society because weak
social ties to others
Anomic suicide: norms governing behaviour are vaguely defined
o When society lacks a widely shared moral code, higher anomic suicide
Suicide in Canada Today
Durkheim‟s theories hold up today
o Durkheim‟s France=Canada 2004 (sex suicide)
o Durkheim‟s France: higher rate of suicide of elderly.
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Canada higher rate of suicide ages 15-16
Strong social ties and shared moral principles have eroded since the 1960s for
Canada‟s youth therefore higher rate of youth suicide
o Religious attendance lower for youth (less than 1/3)
o Unemployment up
o Rate of divorce has increased therefore kids brought up in single parent
homes
o Therefore social solidarity lower for young people, meaning they are more
likely to commit suicide during a crisis
From Personal Ties to Social Structure
Patterns of social relations affect innermost thoughts and feelings, influence
actions and help shape who we are
Relatively stable patterns of social relations=social structures
o Three levels of social structure surround and penetrate us
Microstructure: patterns of intimate social relations. Face-to-
face interaction. Families, friends, work associates. More likely to
know the same people. Strength in „weak ties‟
Macrostructure: patterns of social relations that lie outside and
above circle of intimate friends. Class relations and patriarchy.
Traditional system of economic and political inequality between
men and women
Global structure: International organizations, patterns of
worldwide travel and communication, economic relations between
countries
The Sociological Imagination
American sociologist. C. Wright Mills (1959) called the ability to see the
connection between personal troubles and social structures the sociological
imagination
o Born when three modern revolutions pushed people to think about society
in a new way
Scientific Revolution: began in 1550. Encouraged the view that
sound conclusions about the workings of society must be based on
solid evidence not just speculation
Democratic Revolution: began 1750. Suggests that people are
responsible for organizing society and human intervention can
solve social problems
Industrial Revolution: began 1780. Created new and serious
social problems that attracted the attention of social thinkers
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Document Summary

Reasoned the idea that psychological disorder causes suicide is supported only if suicide rates tend to be high where rates of psychological disorder are high. Research revealed nothing of the kind asylums, but 4 male suicides for every 1 female suicide. Jews had more psychological disorders than the other main religious groups in france, but the lowest suicide rate. Psychological disorder occurred most frequently when reached maturity, but suicide rates increased with age. Therefore suicide rates and rates of psychological disorders vary un proportionately. Altruistic suicide: when norms tightly govern behaviour therefore individual actions are in the groups interest: soldier sacrificing himself to save another. Egoistic suicide: lack of integration of the individual into society because weak social ties to others. Anomic suicide: norms governing behaviour are vaguely defined: when society lacks a widely shared moral code, higher anomic suicide.

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