Durkheim used a study of suicide to show the view that society shapes individual behaviour (structuralism).
Durkheim ( A positivist) argued that sociology should be seen as a science because we can observe and measure society objectively.
Durkheim beleives that suicide is a social fact which is a social force thats external to the individual. He beleives that suicide is not an individually determined action but a result of social facts in wider society. Suicide isn't down to individual motives as there are vast differences between groups in society therefore it must be down to something like the wider social structure. He did research using official statistics from European countires and found:
. Rates varied between social groups E.g Catholics had a lower suicide rate than protestants
. Suicide rates within a society remained more or less constant over time.
Durkheim said that these results were due to two social facts: -
1) social intergration- How far individuals feel like they belong to a group, if an individual is more socially intergrated and has more social connections the less likely they are to commit suicide.
2) Moral intergration- How far individuals are kept in check by norms