Suicide: A Study in Sociology

Suicide: A Study in Sociology

Suicide: A Study in Sociology

Suicide: A Study in Sociology

Synopsis

There would be no need for sociology if everyone understood the social frameworks within which we operate. That we do have a connection to the larger picture is largely thanks to the pioneering thinker Emile Durkheim. He recognized that, if anything can explain how we as individuals relate to society, then it is suicide: Why does it happen? What goes wrong? Why is it more common in some places than others? In seeking answers to these questions, Durkheim wrote a work that has fascinated, challenged and informed its readers for over a hundred years. Far-sighted and trail-blazing in its conclusions, Suicide makes an immense contribution to our understanding to what must surely be one of the least understandable of acts. A brilliant study, it is regarded as one of the most important books Durkheim ever wrote.

Excerpt

Of the four major works of the renowned French sociologist, Émile Durkheim, only Le Suicide has remained to be translated. The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life was first published in English in 1915; the Division of Labor in Society in 1933 and The Rules of Sociological Method in 1938. Over half a century has gone by since the first edition of Le Suicide, yet far more than antiquarian interest attaches to it in the sociological, statistical, philosophical, and psychological disciplines. But the historical significance of the volume in social thought would be enough reason for presenting it to readers in the English-speaking world. As a milestone in social science and an indispensable part in understanding the work of the man who founded and firmly established academic sociology in France and influenced many others outside of France, it should have long since been available in translation.

Though our statistical material today is more refined and broader, and our socio-psychological apparatus better established than was Durkheim’s, his work on suicide remains the prototype of systematic, rigorous and unrelenting attack on the subject with the data, techniques, and accumulated knowledge available at any given period. Indeed, Le Suicide is among the very first modern examples of consistent and organized use of statistical method in social investigation. In the last decade of the nineteenth century when Durkheim was conducting . . .

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