Les Formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse (1)
THE FIRST QUESTION that arises when one tries to draw practical conclusions from Durkheim's study of suicide is that of the normal or pathological character of the phenomenon under consideration. As I have indicated, Durkheim regards crime as a socially normal phenomenon. This does not mean that criminals are not often psychically abnormal, or that crime should not be condemned and punished, but simply that in every society a certain number of crimes are committed and that consequently, if by normal we mean what happens regularly, crime is not a pathological phenomenon. Similarly, a certain suicide rate may be regarded as normal. Durkheim then goes on to decide, perhaps without quite conclusive demonstration, that the increase in the suicide rate in modern society is pathological, or, rather, that the current suicide rate reveals certain pathological traits in modern society.
Modern society is characterized by social differentiation, organic solidarity, density of population, intensity of communications and of the struggle for survival. All these phenomena are related to the essence of modern society and as such should not be regarded as abnormal.
But at the end of De la division du travail social, as at the end of