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Assess The Usefulness Of Different Sociological Approaches To Suicide

1061 words - 5 pages

Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess the usefulness of different sociological approaches to suicide
There are many different sociological views which approach suicide. Positivists think that suicide can be explained simply by looking at official statistics and there are distinct reasons for every suicide. Interpretists think that there is a reason behind every suicide and this can be found through qualitative studies. Realists think that there are further structural causes behind suicide. Each view is useful in explaining relationships between suicides however; none provide solid reasons behind it.
Durkheim used suicide to show that a scientific sociology was possible. In ...view middle of the document...

The second type is Altruistic suicide; this is the opposite of egoistic and is caused by too much integration. Altruism involves putting others before one’s self. Altruistic suicide occurs where the individual has little value and where the group’s interest overrides those of the individual. The third is anomic suicide; this is cause by too little moral regulation. Anomie means ‘normlessness’ and anomic suicide occurs where society’s norms become unclear or are made obsolete by rapid social change , creating uncertainty in individuals as to what society expects of them. The fourth type is fatalistic suicide this is the opposite of anomic and is caused by too much moral regulation. Fatalism means a belief on the part of the individual that they can do nothing to affect their situation or density. Fatalistic suicide occurs where society regulates or controls the individual completely.
The interpretivists approaches directly contrasts the positivist one and seek to focus on the meanings of suicide for those involved. Douglas criticises Durkheim's use of official statistics as they are not accurate and recommends qualitative studies to find out the real rate of suicide. The statistics are a result of a coroners label and therefore it is not trustworthy in his view. This is suggested in Item A where cases are decided on "the basis of probability”. Douglas seeks to find out the meaning of the suicide and criticises Durkheim for implying that the meaning is fixed. His view can be criticised as there is no reason to believe that a sociologist would be better at interpreting a dead persons meanings than a coroners. Douglas is inconsistent at times, suggesting that sometimes official statistics area product of the coroner’s opinions and other times we can really discover the causes of suicide. This further implicates that question that revolves around a death that was it a suicide in the first place? There is no further information to go on other than the coroners.
Ethnomethodologists such as Atkinson argue that social reality is simply a construct of its members, created by common sense knowledge and that this is used to make sense of the world. Atkinson disagrees with Douglas saying that it is impossible to find the real rate of suicide. Instead, all we can study is how the living come to classify a...

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