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Exploring the major Sociological theme of Suicide - Essay Example

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The earliest theories of suicide were largely based upon demonological and theological perspectives and the relation between individual and a society. A good deal of speculation and argument centered over the right of the individual to take his own life. That suicide was considered a conscious volitional act, which was evidenced by laws that existed against suicide, and by its being banned by some religions…
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Exploring the major Sociological theme of Suicide
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Download file to see previous pages In the Lettres Persanes he speaks of "the misery of the human condition". Speaking of the suicide of Brutus and Cassius, this is what Montesquieu writes:
In France, the end of the eighteenth century had seen the beginning of a shift from a moral discourse on suicide to a growing concern with suicide rates. By 1842, Quetelet was investigating the extent to which moral phenomena of suicide could be said to resemble physical phenomena, his answer being that large numbers served to cancel out individual peculiarities and to reveal the institutional and general features of society in the figure of the 'social man', a fictitious being conforming to the median results of statistical analysis. In France, Bertillon's statistical experimentation inspired Durkheim's later adoption of replicative analysis. By the 1850s, French social commentators linked industrialization and the expansion of urban, commercial life to the development of 'gosme' and 'odieux individualisme', both defined in terms Durkheim later applied to anomie, as consequences of moral paralysis. On one hand, pathological individualism was taken to be at the root of social disorder, apathy and exploitation; on both sides of the political spectrum, there was talk of a 'general malaise', of the possibility of social dissolution, and of a 'national decadence', one sign of which was taken to be a falling birth rate and it is interesting to note, as Lukes does, that Durkheim authored a paper on birth rates and suicide in 1888. There was a felt sense that the decline of those traditional moral controls associated with pre-revolutionary social formations had left a vacuum. If one were anticlerical, this vacuum was to be filled by a new, secular morality, answerable in the abstract to reason and in practice to a science of normalcy or health. If one were a Catholic traditionalist, it would be addressed by a revival of Christian moral education and the social authority of the Church.
On the other hand, social anarchy, and political anarchism, was likened to forms of 'hysteria' arising from excessive individualism on one hand and the formation of 'crowds' on the other. The mass popularity of romantic literature was blamed for a degenerate aestheticism leading to a suicide 'mania' escorting the types designated social conditions affecting suicide rates, not motivations for individual acts. But it is worth noting that Durkheim's more specific images of the types of suicide are often couched in subjectively ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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