Assess the Usefulness of Different Sociological Approaches to Suicide

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Suicide can be seen as one of the ultimate acts of deviance mainly due to nature where it harms ones self-preservation and can be very hard for one to understand why this act is committed due to various reasons which can be tied such as that of an emotional factor and it can be clearly seen that human beings emotions can sometimes be hard to read along with one’s mind. This particular section was understudied by sociologists until the 1960’s due to Durkheim’s research on it in the 1897. There is a deep division between two perspectives; positivists – who wish to use natural science to study their theories when possible and interpretivists – who prefer to explore the way society is constructed through people’s interactions. Durkheim chose to study suicide in an attempt to prove that the new subject of sociology could provide an explanation for an act that seemed to be the opposite of what could be considered as ‘social’. By proving that sociology had something useful to say in explaining, he hoped to secure the status of sociology amongst the newly emerging science. This attempt to locate sociology as a science is crucial in understanding how he tackled the issue. His chosen method, now called multivariate analysis consisted in comparing the incidence of various social factors with the known incidence of a particular event – in this case suicide. He studied the statistics of suicide that he collected from death certificates and found that there were clear patterns. What supported Durkheim’s argument that there was a social explanation for suicide was the fact that over a period of 20 years, suicide rates were different across countries, religions, and the married and unmarried. To explain these patterns, he returned to the theme of shared values and social cohesion. He argued that people are naturally selfish and do not concern themselves with other people’s
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