Emile Durkheim and The Science of Sociology Essay

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Introduction Emile Durkheim was born in France in April of 1858 and died in November of 1917. He was from a close Jewish community that he continued to be close to even after breaking with the Jewish church. Having come from a long family line of rabbis, he had planned to follow in that profession. Durkheim was known as the Father of Sociology. He was a liberal, a modernist, and a nationalist. He was a very ambitious man; this ambition was illustrated by the accomplishments he made over the course of his life. During the conflict surrounding the Dreyfus Affair, Durkheim used the new field of sociology to try to make sense of society and the world around him. The Dreyfus Affair was a government cover up framing a Jewish captain…show more content…
He did not want to predict individual suicide but rather to study suicide rates. He looked at it from more of a statistical and analytical method. Suicide was defined a few times throughout the work, as the definition was changed to consider a perspective that he had not yet taken into account. A common idea of suicide was a positive and violent action such as a person shooting themselves, but suicide can also be a negative act such as a refusal to eat. Durkheim named suicide as a category that can also cover some instances not usually associated with suicide. A few examples of that are a soldier going into battle knowing he will be killed, a martyr that dies for the cause, and a businessman that kills himself after going bankrupt. Most people would not consider that soldier suicidal nor would they consider the martyrdom a suicide. However, both of those scenarios include people going into a situation despite the fact that they know they will die. According to Durkheim (1951), it did not matter if the person just accepted death as unavoidable or they actually wanted to die because the two scenarios were close enough to be broadly grouped together (Durkheim, Suicide: A Study in Sociology, 1951). Basically he was saying that if the person sacrifices their life and gives their soul, the most precious gift they have, it can be classified as suicide. Suicide, being a personal decision that affects only that person, was generally thought
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