Durkheim's Suicide: A Century of Research and Debate

Durkheim's Suicide: A Century of Research and Debate

Durkheim's Suicide: A Century of Research and Debate

Durkheim's Suicide: A Century of Research and Debate


Durkeim's book on suicide, first published in 1897 is widely regarded as a classic text, and is essential reading for any student of Durkheim's thought and sociological method. This book examines the continuing importance of Durkheim's methodology. The wide-ranging chapters cover such issues as the use of statistics, explanation of suicide, anomie and religion and the morality of suicide. This book will be of vital interest to any serious scholar of Durkheim's thought and to the sociologist looking for a fresh methodological perspective.


The chapters of this book, at least most of them, began as papers given at an international conference organized by the British Centre for Durkheimian Studies. The Centre is based in the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Oxford. The three-day conference was held in December 1997 in conjunction with the Maison Franchise, Oxford. It commemorated the publication of Durkheim’s book on suicide, which appeared a hundred years earlier. The wide range of papers dealing with this classical and still much used text in sociology, covered such issues as methodology, the use of statistics, explanations of suicide, anomie, religion, the morality of suicide and so on. One of the aims of the British Centre for Durkheimian Studies has been in holding a number of conferences on Durkheim and the band of scholars who surrounded him, and who after his death in 1917 continued to work on his ideas. Several of the conferences were funded by an award from the British Economic and Social Research Council; this was the last of such conferences.

When the time came to publish a book, such was the variety of papers given that it was impossible to include them all in such a volume. There had to be a selection which displayed a certain unity of style and development. The editors much appreciated those who were willing to let their papers be published and, in some cases, emended. But they are just as grateful to those who delivered papers but then found that their efforts could not be rewarded by having a chapter in the book. In order to give the book greater coherence and make it more comprehensive, one or two scholars who were writing in the field, but who could not attend the conference, were asked to submit contributions.

We are also grateful to those who helped with the organization of the conference and the preparation of the book. Once again our thanks extend to M. Jean-Claude Vatin, Director of the Maison Franchise, and his staff, and to those at Routledge who have helped with bringing the book to fruition.

Finally, it is necessary to forewarn readers of a particular technical point in the references in this book. Steven Lukes’ dating—enumeration system for Durkheim’s work has been followed throughout. In this system each original

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