Durkheim and suicide essay

Durkheim is of the firm belief that suicide is not an individual act or a private and personal action. It is caused by some power which is over and above the individual or “super-individual.” It is not a personal situation but a manifestation of a social
condition. He speaks of suicidal currents as collective tendencies that dominate some vul­nerable persons. The act of suicide is nothing but the manifestation of these currents. Durkheim has selected the instance or event of suicide to demonstrate the function of sociological theory.

Nevertheless, his ideas had, and continue to have, a strong impact in the social sciences, especially in sociology and anthropology. Members of his research group, such as Marcel Mauss, Paul Fauconnet, Célestin Bouglé, and Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, and later thinkers, such as Maurice Halbwachs, Talcott Parsons, Alfred Radcliffe-Brown, and Claude Levi-Strauss, were all strongly influenced by him. Philosophers such as Henri Bergeson and Emmanuel Levinas acknowledge the influence of Durkheim’s ideas, and his work is also present in that of Jacques Lacan and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. In addition to this, Durkheim’s ideas are latent in the structuralist thought that emerged in post WWII France, for example in Alain Badiou, Louis Althusser, and Michel Foucault. However, these thinkers never discuss Durkheim at length, or acknowledge any intellectual debt to to him. More recently, social theorists such as Pierre Bourdieu, Robert Bellah, and Steven Lukes, and philosophers such as Charles Taylor and Hans Joas, have been influenced by Durkheim’s thinking.

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Durkheim and suicide essay

durkheim and suicide essay

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