Assess the Usefulness of Different Sociological Approaches to Suicide.

Authors Avatar by liam_curran1996hotmailcouk (student)

Liam Curran

There are two main approaches to the issue of suicide; positivism and interpretivism and their views differ dramatically in method and theory. I will be assessing the strengths and weaknesses of each approach, in the way they both study suicide.

Early positivists such as Durkheim (1895) see suicide as social facts, which means it can be studied scientifically.His fundamental argument was that suicide was not an individual act but that suicide had a social cause that is found in every society. He found four types of suicide: Egoistic - inadequate integration, Altruistic - excessive integration, Anomic - inadequate regulation and Fatalistic - excessive regulation. Strengths of his argument support his egoistic suicide, as Marshall and Hodge (1981) say that there is a connection between the suicide rate, and economic crisis. A problem with this argument is how positivists see it as ‘scientifically’ studying because he doesn’t question the validity or reliability of the data he looks at, and he takes them as factual when interpretivists look at the meaning of suicide for the victim and that the data that Durkheim collected are nothing other than the interpretation of an official agency.

Join now!

Interpretivists such as Douglas prefer to look at the meaning behind suicide; and argues that sociological analysis of the meaning of suicide rather than the causes of suicide is the key to understanding. He found three different types of suicide: Suicide as reunion - release from cares/pressures, suicide as atonement - transforming oneself for others and suicide as revenge - most increased from in 20th century. He argued that we should study suicide through the use of notes, biographies, psychiatrist notes and wills. This presents as a strength because it can help to lower the problems of interpretation of ...

This is a preview of the whole essay