durkheim, positivism and suicide

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  • Created by: Gemma
  • Created on: 16-04-12 16:52

Positivists study scientifically. Science develops laws to explain observed patterns. Durkheim (1897) argued that there are patterns in suicide and their social causes can be discovered which proves that sociology is a science.

suicide rates as social facts

In Durkheim's view, behaviour is caused by social facts (forces found in the structure of society). Facts are external and they constrain individuals, shaping their behaviour. For Durkheim, the suicide rate is a social fact. Using official statistics for various European countries, Durkheim found that:

  • different societies have different rates
  • within a society, rates varied between social groups eg. Catholics had lower rates than Protestants 

For Durkheim, such…

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