Durkheim and Interactionalist theory of suicide, including A02.

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  • Suicide
    • Durkheim
      • Positivist approach to research, over a 20 year period with official statistics and documents.
      • Seen as a social explanation rather than individual, otherwise there wouldn't be trends.
      • People naturally selfish, only care for others when forced to, this is through emphasized bonds i.e. social integration through socialisation and shared values.
      • Lower suicide with greater social integration e.g. Roman Catholics and Hindu societies highly integrated, so care for others more.
      • 4 types of suicide
        • Egoistic society;
          • Individual rights and happiness are stressed, so wider groups have weakened in social bonds.
          • Individual failure or unhappiness are acceptable grounds for taking own life.
          • Social institutions try and counteract egoistic values and strengthen bonds e.g. Government agencies.
          • National crisis e.g. war, can lead societies to be drawn together so there is more social integration.
        • Altruistic societies;
          • Welfare of individuals less important, than welfare from the group.
          • Suicides occur were people are expected to commit suicide on behalf of wider society e.g. suicide bombers.
        • Anomic societies;
          • If cultural and social mechanisms that restrict unacceptable behaviour are weakened, some resort to natural selfishness.
          • Happens in times of great social change.
        • Fatalistic societies;
          • Lose the will to live.
            • Could explain prison suicide rates.
            • Japanese soldiers and civilians in closing stages of World War
      • A02;
        • No clear definition of Social Cohesion / Integration.
        • Fails to see how links to family or religion can be proven.
        • Official statistics are unreliable as some Doctors may not certify suicide if there's a stigma attached to it.
    • The killing of oneself. (The ultimate act of deviance)
    • Interpretivists approach
      • Believe society is based on individuals interaction.
      • Felt Durkheim's research was inappropriate.
      • Douglas 1967
        • TRANSFORMING THE SELF; gaining release from the cares of the world.
        • TRANSFORMING ONESELF ONTO OTHERS; telling others how profound their feelings are on a particular issue
        • ACHIEVING FELLOW FEELING; ask for help of sympathy.
        • GAINING REVENGE; forced into a position of suicide.
        • A02
          • Based on assumptions
          • No single act can therefore be determined as suicide, only death being the main concept as people place different meanings on their acts.
          • Durkheim's work is based on statistical comparisons which is worthless to the individual.
    • Atkinson
      • Suicide is a social construct, it is up to a coroner, who's decisions is based on clues.
        • Suicide note, but in 30% of cases the family destroy this.
        • Mode of death
        • Location and Circumstances; usually in a place unlikely to be discovered
        • Life history and Mental condition; search for evidence e.g. depression or negative events in the deceased life.
    • Taylor 1990
      • Para-suicides; majority of people who attempt suicide fail.
        • Most suicides don't die, but leave the decision to fate if found or not.
      • Durkheim and Douglas can be brought together as mutually exclusive.


Hannah Norton

Easy to read layout, simple notes, really helpful. Thank you!


This is an excellent summary of the topic of suicide which is clear and detailed and takes into account all the relevant key theorist who have debated on the subject. Excellent resource.


Rather confusing in all honesty, children may find this difficult.

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