Assess the usefulness of quantitative and qualitative sources of data in studying suicide.

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The term quantitative refers to data that is measured or identified on a numerical scale. It is preferred by Positivists such as Durkheim as they like scientific data that is representative and reliable. On the other hand qualitative data is ‘rich’ data that explores the meanings and motives of different human behaviours. Qualitative data is preferred by Interpretivists such as Douglas as they want to gain validity and verstehen. Suicide can be operationalised in different ways, and it is argued that the different ways that it is operationalised results in what therefore is learnt about suicide. For example, Positivists view suicide as a social fact as it is affected by external conditions. For example, if the religion of the country was catholic I.e. Italy then it would probably show a low suicide rate as suicide is seen as a sin in Catholic countries. Therefore this means, coroners would be more likely to leave the death as an ’open verdict’ so it wouldn’t be seen as suicide, and therefore it wouldn’t put shame on the family. On the other hand, Interpretivists view suicide as a negotiated meaning. Sociologists such as Douglas argue that it is the result of a discussion between the coroner and the family and friends that come to the conclusion whether it is a suicide or not. For example, the coroner would talk to the family and friends of the decease and try to uncover the meanings and motives they may have had. Therefore as suicide is operationalised in different ways, a true, clear picture of suicide will never be obtained as suicide rates are usually socially constructed. Durkheim took a positivist approach and gathered suicide statistics from different European countries and correlated them. From his correlations, he claimed to identify causal relationships between two factors: integration; the extent to which your linked to people, and

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