Outline and evaluate Durkheims theory of suicide.

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Outline and evaluate Durkheim’s theory of suicide. Durkheim published his acclaimed book Suicide: a study of sociology. Many subsequent studies since of suicide have been due to his book. Others have tried to prove that Durkheim’s theory was successful in explaining suicide and consequentially tried to improve them, whilst others reject his theory completely. Emile Durkheim applied his scientific method to social facts in his study of suicide. Durkheim believed that suicide was the most personal act anybody could take. He believed that he could show that the most individual act could be linked to psychology, had social causes, which validated the power and worth of sociology. Durkheim believed that society had two functions: social integration, this is the beliefs attitudes values and behaviour patterns are shared amongst people in a social group. Moral regulation the way in which society regulates individuals, the norms and values which constrain people’s behaviour. He believed that when these functions break down, the individual could not control the environment they live in and are left to their own devices. He called this anomie (society in which individuals do not have any firm guidelines about the way to behave with each other.) (Lawson and Garrod 1996).Social change could create anomie, such as closure of large factories causing high unemployment. Thus possibly creating a link leading to suicidal tendencies. Durkheim hypothesised, that suicide varied between the groups and examined its empirical validity. He did this with detailed statistics that he called social facts that could be used to find the sociological causes on suicide. He claimed he would be able to establish a correlation between suicide and the social relations. Durkheim hypothesis was that suicide would be highest amongst young men, single people and Protestants.
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