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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (21 Feb. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415278317
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415278317
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 322,701 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'Durkheim's great books are dedicated to the proposition that society transcends the individual: that our beliefs, values, dispositions and desires are often products of social forces and structures we poorly understand.' - Financial Times

'One of the acutest and most brilliant sociologists.' - Bronislaw Malinowski

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Émile Durkheim (1858 - 1917). One of the founding fathers of modern sociology.

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Lark TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 23 Sept. 2008
Format: Paperback
Not sure what the cover is meant to construe, perhaps its a eureka! moment or something, anyway, this is a great book and this is a great edition of the book. The contents are clear, there is a good index included for students or anyone who needs to be able to make quick references to specific parts of the text.

This is a prior really of the first sociological/social explanations for significant individual behaviour using the example of suicide.

As the blurb says this was a phenomenon previously only considered as being psychological in nature and Durkheim doesnt ignore this, there is a good opening chapter on "extra-social" explanations and their significance, Durkheim isnt dogmatic and doesnt dismiss these out of hand but the second and final chapters deal mainly with is own theories of social construction, social interaction, pressure and consequences.

The ideas have in many ways been superseded and it cant be described as total prescient to any current/contemporary scenario as it once was (in this respect there are other sociological and psychological books dealing with fragmentation, identity and disparity). However it is a classic in sociological reasoning and explanation which students, professionals or interested readers could benefit from reading.

The text isnt as accessible and readable as some of the books in the routledge classics range but bearing with it is rewarding, its not a novel afterall but it can give some insights into the day to day and the nature of crisis and individual consequences.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 8 Dec. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The modern world of the 21st Century is obsessed with external appearances and managing them to broadcast a sheen of radiance in a fit of managing reality which Orwell would have railed against This book is the lodestone of that type of nihilistic belief as it is founded upon faith - a belief that capturing an "objective" reality is required and that it is useful. Durkheim shows how it is done.

Ostensibly capturing "suicide" data should not be difficult, after all, there is a huge difference between someone alive and someone dead - whatever people tell you. However the way that someone dies is socially constructed. For most cultures suicide is a taboo subject, carefully hidden and concealed within devout Catholic countries because it brings stigma to the family. Not to say stigma does not also occur within Northern European countries, but at least you get to enter the cemetery and not placed in an unmarked grave.

Durkheim bases his gathering of "facts" on the written bureaucratic records and here is the beginning of the problem - the assumption that written records are reliable.

As someone previously involved in constructing them I can assure you they are not. They are socially constructed.

Someone who jumps in front of a train or hangs themselves or takes poison is a clear suicide - especially if there is a note. But what about the man who drinks himself to death or the person who drives too fast around the bend, then it becomes much more ambiguous? Or what about the people who starve themselves to death or overdose?

So "Suicide" which appeared so clear then becomes not so, it becomes uncertain.
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By Joseph Richardson on 9 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great translation of Suicide.
Good read for any work on Durkheim and understanding his approach on sociology and his ideas and concepts which become seen throughout all of his works.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 13 reviews
55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
Synthesis of intimately personal and powerfully public 18 Dec. 2001
By Charlotte A. Hu - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Emile Durkheim's classic work tells us more than just details about suicide. Studying a powerfully individual phenomenon from a sociological perspective was, in its own right, an impressive undertaking. But what interests me more for sociology of media is the way Durkheim handled statistics. In the first chapter, he gives a series of examples that illustrate the danger in placing too much unexamined value in numerical data. He shows first that married people commit suicide more than singles, but then notes that single people include children who are unlikely to commit suicide. Therefore this data does not necessarily indicate a causal relationship between marriage and suicide. He adjusts the data, taking only people of marriage age and computes the data again. This time, single people commit suicide more than married people. However, Durkheim then notes that single people will automatically include a larger portion of mentally or physically defunct people. He therefore concludes that there is not sufficient data to make a conclusion about a causal relationship between suicide and marital status. This is really little more than mental exercise, but it is a critical one for any one employing survey methods and statistical analysis. The researcher must be vigilant in analyzing data to ensure avoiding errors in logic.
Durkheim's study in sociology contributes much more than this detail to the social sciences, but for my purposes of analyzing the sociology of media, this is the most critical point.
48 of 53 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating&Intelligent...From a man, who loved his subject 25 Mar. 2000
By "zara_azari" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Emile Durkheim is called a Father of Sociology, and rightly so. He was the first man to work on all of the problems and issues, unresolved by other known sciences at the time ( in 19-century), to combine many of the already known scientific methods in one, and to call it sociology. Surely, there were other theorists, his contemporaries, who were starting to wander in the same direction at the same time with Durkheim, but he was the one, who put his own and other people's theories to practice. That is what "Suicide" is all about: gathering data and putting it to test with the theory (suicide, being the subject of the study in this case, of course). The best part about Durkheim's work presented in "Suicide" is that it is still an incredibly potent and groundbreaking manuscript. One, who reads it today, can't help but notice that human nature and human problems have largely remained the same: they are universal and ageless and they still need to be studied by competent sociologists.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Suicide 28 Dec. 2008
By J. Held - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Suicide is as old a phenomenon as is murder or thievery. It has been looked down on as a criminal act requiring punishment in order to thwart additional acts. In 452, the Council of Arles declared suicide a crime to result in the culprit going to hell. This was followed in 563 by the Council of Prague declaring that in addition to going to hell one would also be forbidden from having any religious memorial during one's funeral. In addition, civil legislation followed with penalties resulting in one's possessions reverting to the lord or baron of the estate rather than to any natural heirs. They went to great lengths in their efforts to eliminate or reduce suicide by torturing the bodies of those who committed suicide. They would hang corpses in the town square or drag it through the streets. These actions were no doubt in frustration concerning their inability to not only understand suicide but also their failed attempts to control it.

Durkheim's study into suicide discovered that suicide is not a criminal act nor is it an individual phenomenon but rather it is a problem associated with our collective conscience or what we term society. The study by Durkheim has had additional benefits other than an understanding of suicide. These would be the methods used by Durkheim for this study as well as to propel sociology to a greater degree of acceptability.

Durkheim's style in this book is similar to that used by Michel Foucault in his series about the sexuality. They both offer hypothesis after hypothesis only to discredit them completely or partially resulting in new hypotheses. Durkheim continues this process until one has no other option but to conclude that he has successfully proved his hypothesis that society is the cause of suicide and that suicide is not only a negative phenomenon but a necessary one. The way in which Durkheim explains this strange required negativity, I would correlate to the unemployment levels in our modern capitalistic societies in that we can never expect to reach a level of complete employment.

Durkheim's contributions to the methods of research used by future social scientists concentrate on the correlation of data to prove causation. He was meticulous in amassing a vast amount of raw data to analysis but he also discussed the limits of the data analyses. This would have implications for future sociologists in that they would be expected to uphold the standards set by Durkheim. Concerning suicide, the problem with data would hem not only on the definition of suicide but also on the unknown instances of the act of suicide. Durkheim defined suicide as, "suicide is applied to all cases of death resulting directly or indirectly from a positive or negative act of the victim himself, which he knows will produce this result" (p.44). This definition, however, has some validity issues. How would Durkheim view a soldier during war who rushes into the enemies line of fire knowing full well that he will be killed but if he fails to act in this situation many of his comrades will be killed? According to Durkheim, this situation would be considered a suicide. Many would disagree but Durkheim addresses this by defining three forms of suicide.

Three forms of suicide: Egoistic, Altruistic, and Anomic. Egoistic results from a lack of integration into society. The more individualist one is the greater the risk for suicide. Durkheim feels that society as a whole is moving towards a more individualistic society resulting in increases in egoistic suicide rates. The second form, altruistic, goes against the rule of egoistic suicide in that the degree of social integration is irrelevant. Suicide is committed for the greater good of society so the greater one's connection and commitment to society the greater risk of committing the act. This, however, is a form of suicide usually found only in tribal or lower societies. Suicide takes the form of ritual or sacrifice. This form is also found in the modern army in the form of the example of a soldier committing suicide to save his comrades. The final form, anomic, is correlated to the degree that one is upset with one's environment. This usually occurs during a divorce, loss of a job, winning the lottery, or discovering devastating truths or fallacies. The point here is that the individual is removed from their group in physicality, social status, etc. The supporting infrastructure is upset and one is left to fend for oneself. This can be evidenced by stockbrokers jumping to their death during the crash of 1929 or the lottery winners today attempting suicide. Durkheim does point out that one of the greatest protections from suicide is being poor.

The book is a very difficult read with an almost endless amount of facts and figures resulting in what is termed paralysis by analysis to the general layman BUT as a student of Sociology it is necessary in order to prove his hypothesis.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
PIONEERING WORK IN SOCIOLOGY 15 Nov. 2003
By Denis Benchimol Minev - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is the work considered the pioneer of modern sociology, with its author hailed the father of sociology. The innovative nature of the work lies in putting together all the methods of social analysis available at his time and providing a comprehensive view of the nature of suicide in society.
Mixing quantitative and qualitative methods, Durkheim provides the basis for the future development of sociology. He brings science to the study of society, by developing a hypothesis, gathering data and testing the hypothesis. He proves the powerful influence of society on the behavior of individuals, which, though obvious today, was not a clear conclusion at the time.
This is a basic reading for anyone interested in sociology. However, anyone interested in the application of scientific methods to society and other non-traditional fields for science would also find it very useful.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
The best and first tutorial to the sociology 6 Feb. 2004
By Masahiko OKAZAKI - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Durkheim says at the beginning; the sociology is the current science, but nobody knows what it is. Even now, his words sound contemporary. This study aims at introducing the necessity and importance of the sociology to the public, but not at sophisticatedly professional people.
It matches the orientation of the primary students to study the sociology, because the preliminary knowledge isnft necessary. Actually, I could read this book at the first year of the university without any sociological knowledge. After finishing to read the first part, which proves that the suicide isnft the psychological phenomenon, but the sociological, you can investigate the present situation as he did in the 19th century by using the statistics of the international organization like WHO. You will find the manipulation of the statistics not only easy, but also important with Durkheimfs tutorial. It may be your first experience of the scientific study at the society.
I can recommend it to the youth.
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