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In this essay, I would try to explain and critically evaluate the concepts used by Durkheim in his work in the light of a widespread feeling that rapid industrialization and modernization could lead to an impending "moral crisis".

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Introduction

Emile Durkheim is regarded as the founding father of sociology, he was concerned to use the new science of sociology to analyze the very essence of social order-how it established, maintained and, in particular, re-established after a period of severe and rapid social change. (Slattery, 1991) In this essay, I would try to explain and critically evaluate the concepts used by Durkheim in his work in the light of a widespread feeling that rapid industrialization and modernization could lead to an impending "moral crisis". In the half century before the Great War, France remained a rural country, but was undergoing great social change through industrialization, urbanization and rapid growth of capitalism. Though the growth of industry was not very rapid, during Durkheim's life, the living standard of French society still almost doubled. Durkheim noted that: With increased prosperity desires increase. At the very moment when traditional rules have lost their authority, the richer prize offered to these appetites stimulates them and makes them more exigent and impatient of control. [Durkheim.E, The Division of Labor in Society, (1893, quoted in 1947 edn.) in Haralambos, 2000, p.692] This indicates two types of societies which could be divided by industrialization. ...read more.

Middle

The result is that suicide rates are different countries. He took an example that the suicide rate in Protestant countries is higher than in Catholic countries. And the rates would rise during periods of economic depression and fall during periods of economic prosperity. That means the rates could be implicated by some social factors. Moreover, even in the same countries, the rates between different groups could vary. He found that in the same countries, people who are unmarried or childless are more likely to commit suicide than the ones who are married or with children. Depending on the degree to which individuals were integrated into social groups and the degree to which they were regulated by society, Durkheim distinguished four types of suicide: egoistic suicide, anomic suicide, altruistic suicide and fatalistic suicide. Egoistic suicide and anomic suicide are more significant in modern societies. Egoistic suicide resulted from the individual being insufficient integrated into the social groups and society to which he or she belonged. (Haralambos, 2000, p.975) It is because people would primarily think of themselves and be less concerned with their duties and obligations as individualism develops. Durkheim argued that the suicide rate of the people in Catholic religion is lower than Protestants because people in Catholic religion were integrated much more strongly into religious community but the Protestants were more likely to be encouraged to develop themselves. ...read more.

Conclusion

Durkheim saw the difference between repressive sanctions and restitutive law as a important basis to measure mechanical solidarity and organic solidarity. But in fact, the contrast of the legal codes between these two solidarities was not so great as Durkheim thought. In pre-industrial age, the Trobriander Islanders did not use repressive sanctions at all and in today, some states such as South Africa still use highly repressive sanctions to keep the society stable. Moreover, Durkheim believed that the suicide rate has a strong link with the degree of integration through the official statistics. But, the decision of whether one person is killed by suicide is determined by the coroner, and the coroner would be influenced by the family and friends of the deceased. Family and friends always would not like to accept the possibility of suicide, so they might reject it; in another hand, coroners always think a person without family or friends is more likely to commit a suicide. So, it is sure that a person who is integrated well into a group is less likely to kill himself rather than a person who is lack of family and friends. Therefore, the reliance used by Durkheim to analyze suicide is not sufficient to support his view. Though Durkheim was criticized in many aspects, his effort on studying social solidarity, social change and social problems really promoted the development of sociological ideas and further research. ...read more.

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