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Sociological View On Suicide

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Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess the usefulness of different sociological approaches to suicide Item a shows that there have been many studies conducted on suicide and the decisions behind why people commit suicide. Such sociologists who have conducted these studies and Durkheim, Douglas and Taylor. All three have conducted studies but there is great difference in the way the study has been conducted. Emile Durkheim was a French sociologist who was also a positivist thinker who was strongly influenced by the also French sociologist, Auguste Comte. He was a sociologist like no other of his time. He was trying to make sociology a more respectable and accepted subject by showing how sociology was the same as the natural sciences. He was trying to prove how sociology could be studied through the logic of methods by making his studies objective and ensuring research is reliable and quantitative. Durkheim used a comparative method when undertaking his subject which meant comparing the suicide rates from different European countries in the 19th century. He considered these statistics to be social facts gathered in each country showing a true reflection of how many people had taken their own lives. ...read more.


Other positivists such as Sainsbury (1995) and Gibbs and Martin (1964) predicted that in societies where there was little status integration, suicide rates will be higher; this backed up Durkheim's view and made his research reliable, valid and also representive. A view that opposes this is that of Douglas (1967) and Atkinson (1978), these were two interpretivists' sociologists who looked more at the meaning of the act personally and provided more qualitative data. As an Interpretivist, Douglas rejected Durkheim's categories of suicide and stated how each suicide case was as a result of different circumstances and could not be grouped as each case possesses a different meaning. He disagreed with the statistics and stated how they were the result of the coroners interpretation of the death and therefore many not be valid. Atkinson is mentioned in item A and he takes a different approach, as Atkinson believes that we can never truly be able to identify the rate of suicide and therefore analysis's the way in which the coroner categorize the deaths through the use of qualitive methods and through the understanding of the term ethnomethodology, which is that social reality is a construct of it's members. ...read more.


Finally, Appeal suicides which is where the person is uncertain about others as they doubt their importance to others and attempt suicide to resolve their uncertainty by causing others to change their behavior, this is seen as an act of despair and hope, by combining that they wish to die and wish things to change for the better. This study has many criticisms as it is unable to be proven if these are correct types and individual cases may be a combination of types but there is no real way of telling. This study is unable to be representable as only a small sample of case studies were used and the wider social structures were not taken into consideration. From the three sociological approaches to suicide given it is easy to see that they are all critised by each other and they do possess some similar views such as Douglas and Taylor but they also have very different ways of approaching this study and prove that there is no real way of knowing which approach is the correct one but all approaches use useful methods to study suicide and are all valid in their own approach. ...read more.

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