Critically Evaluate Durkheim's Sociological Approach to the Analysis of Suicide

2691 Words Mar 13th, 2011 11 Pages
Critically evaluate Durkheim’s sociological approach to the analysis of suicide

Emile Durkheim, a French sociologist, is often acclaimed as being one of the key pioneers of the academic discipline, sociology. Durkheim is perhaps most renowned for his publications of controversial monographs, which conveyed the methods and subjects of, in his time the new science of sociology. His work was translated into English and is still in print today, this displays just how fundamental his studies are in the field of today’s sociology. Durkheim is also well known for the establishment of social theory, which can view sociological subjects in an empirical manner like natural sciences.
Durkheim was seen as a positivist, he believed that human
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However Durkheim was attempting to identify law’s that are not measurable or observable therefore he is seen to adopt a more realist approach. Realists argue that the causes of the things we observe lie in the base structure and the processes that cannot be observed. Where as positivists study work which can be viewed and measured, in his work he talks about suicidal forces but as these can not be seen it can be criticised from a positivist view as they cannot be falsified, they can not be disproved.
Sociologist from a different sociological approach, for example interpretivist sociologists would reject his work altogether, as they disagree with the scientific approach, and place more importance on the meaning in human action. They argue humans do not have an automatic response to stimuli, they have free will to think and therefore act however they like. Thus, the behaviour can reflect an individual’s interpretation to the significance of the external stimuli. This view is the opposite of what Durkheim studied as it says people will act differently to stimuli and will not all go out and commit suicide, when put in a particular situation.
Another example of a suicide study, from a different approach would be Jacobs (1967) he believed too that Durkheim’s approach does not give enough meaning behind the act of suicide. Jacobs (1967)
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