The Sociology of Suicide

Revision notes on the sociology of suicide, covering:

  • Durkheim (1897) - Correlation of high suicide rates & 4 types of suicide
  • Responses to Durkheim - Halbwachs (1930) & Gibbs and Martin (1964)
  • Interpretive theories of suicide - Douglas (1967), Baechler (1979), Dorais (2004)
  • Criticism of interpretive theory
  • Phenomenology of suicide - Atkinson (1978)
  • Criticisms of phenomenology - Hindess (1973)
  • Realist approach - Taylor ((1982, 1989, 1990)
  • Evaluation
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The Sociology of Suicide

Suicide is no longer a criminal act in Britain, but it is still widely regarded as
deviant since it contravenes norms relating to the sanctity of human life


Durkheim (1970, first published 1897) tried to show that suicide was not just a
product of…

Page 2

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Despite his association with positivism, Durkheim used elements of a realist
approach in looking for unobservable structures underlying suicide rates.

Responses to Durkheim

Positivists have generally supported the principles on which his work was
based but have modified details

Halbwachs (1930)

Argued that Durkheim overestimated the importance of religion

Page 3

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Dorais (2004)

Used an interpretative approach to understanding high rates of suicide
amongst young men
He conducted indepth interviews with 32 Canadian men who had attempted
He found that many of the men had attempted suicide because they were, or
were perceived by others to be, gay or bisexual…

Page 4

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Hindess (1973)

Points out that the logic of this view can be turned against phenomenologists'
own theories of how deaths are categorised as suicides
E.g. They are no more than their own interpretations and cannot be supported by
objective data

Realist approach

Taylor (1982, 1989, 1990)

Taylor agrees with phenomenologists…


ali wasi


excellent however slightly more evaluation and analysis could be added. e.g validity, representative and reliability could be added or expanded.

Still brillaint and helpful

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