Emile Durkheim Theory Of Suicide

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Traditionally, suicide was thought to be a purely individual decision but French sociologist Emile Durkheim recognized that the phenomenon had a social dimension. He believed in the influence of society on the individual and that if anything can explain that relation, it is suicide. His use of the data of suicide, not specific cases and reports, to study the societal trends reveals his true subject of study: society as a whole and its role in the individual experience. Durkheim uses the study of suicide via the quantitative methodological approach as a tool to study society as a broader whole. Suicide, to Durkheim, is “an exaggerated form of ordinary practices,” and they arise from “comparable states of mind” in people, with the only difference between daily and suicidal behavior being the “chance of death” (Durkheim 20-21). Durkheim spends the majority of the work dissecting the “apparent motives” for suicide (Durkheim 151) and observing the varieties of suicide, a feat made difficult by the inaccurate reporting and misunderstandings of investigators. Thus, to understand the types of suicide, we must “reverse the order of our research” for “There can only be as many different types of suicide as there are differences in the causes from which they derive,” (Durkheim 149). He says “if they were all found to have the same essential characteristics, they would be grouped in one class” but “observations that we would need to have are more or less impossible obtain” (Durkheim
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