Emile Durkheim Theory Essays

This supports the idea that it was the external pressures placed on certain groups within society that induced higher rates of suicide, and is the basis of Durkheim’s work.

Durkheim identified four causes of suicide: egoism, altruism, anomie and fatalism. He has been widely criticised for his use of official statistics, which are open to interpretation and subject to possibly systematic misreporting, and therefore may not represent the true pattern or rates of suicide.

Next I will attempt to compare and contrast Marx’s and Durkheim’s theories regarding the structure of modern society.

Followed by several criticisms of both theorists, and ending with a small conclusion to this essay.

To give reason to his theories, he relied extensively on anthropological and statistical materials.

His important works include: The Division of Labor in Society, (1893), The Rules of Sociological Method (1895), Suicide (1897), and The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912).Marx achieved his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Berlin.Karl Marx studied philosophy and law, and was influenced by the works of Hegel.For Marx the division of labour and class t brought about social stratification, which developed a form of alienation.These for Marx were the crucial elements of modern society.Exiled from Europe, Marx moved to London, England and sustained a meagre living through contributions to various newspapers.Although Marx could see the importance of communism would have within society, he had little time in portraying what the future would hold if in fact communism came into being.Key to all of these was the focus on integration and regulation. It is also argued that he was confused between the distinction between egoism and anomie, and that he failed to substantiate his claims of the existence of altruism and fatalism; this is argued to such an extent that it has even been suggested that there is only one cause of suicide (egoism) that Durkheim could claim to be true.Egoistic suicides occurred with low integration, altruistic with excessive; anomic suicides with low regulation, and fatalistic with excessive. However, whilst acknowledging some of Durkheim’s own contradictions or confusions, some sociologists have gone on to develop and substantiate the ideas that he developed, and there is no denying that his study of suicide is a far-reaching and legacy-building work of substantial value.In more involved societies, he suggests, the division of labour makes for adhesion, but the loss of values leads to social instability and distraction of the people.Durkheim studied suicide to find the importance of anomie, the loss of morale that accompanies decline in an individuals identity.


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