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  1. 1. the sociology of suicide deviance issues
  2. 2. POSITIVISTIC VIEW ‘ structural sociology’
  3. 3. Sociology as a science <ul><li>Social structure </li></ul><ul><li>Social forces </li></ul><ul><li>Deterministic </li></ul><ul><li>Observable facts </li></ul><ul><li>Quantifiable </li></ul><ul><li>Objectivity </li></ul><ul><li>Cause and effect </li></ul><ul><li>Correlations </li></ul><ul><li>Laws of behaviour </li></ul>
  4. 4. Emile Durkheim <ul><li>‘ man is constrained by social facts’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ treat social facts </li></ul><ul><li>as things’ </li></ul>
  5. 5. Durkheim and Suicide <ul><li>This study could prove the scientific nature of sociology </li></ul><ul><li>Comparative analysis published in 1897 </li></ul><ul><li>Certain groups are more prone to suicide (constrained by deterministic social forces) </li></ul><ul><li>Suicide rates are constant over time </li></ul>
  6. 6. Durkheim’s theory of suicide <ul><li>There are 4 types of suicide: </li></ul><ul><li>FATALISTIC </li></ul><ul><li>ANOMIC </li></ul><ul><li>ALTRUISTIC </li></ul><ul><li>EGOISTIC </li></ul>
  7. 7. Suicide is caused by.. <ul><li>Moral Regulation </li></ul><ul><li>The level of morality and obligation in society </li></ul><ul><li>Social Integration </li></ul><ul><li>The degree to which a person is part of a community in society </li></ul>
  8. 8. IT’ALL ABOUT… Values Community Deterministic Social Forces
  9. 9. Moral Regulation & Social Integration <ul><li>Moral Regulation </li></ul><ul><li>Social Integration </li></ul>
  10. 10. High Moral regulation High Social Integration Low Social Integration Low Moral regulation fatalistic Altruistic Anomic Egoistic
  11. 11. Suicide trends <ul><li>Low Suicide Rate </li></ul><ul><li>Catholics – strong regulation/identity </li></ul><ul><li>Married </li></ul><ul><li>Periods of social stability </li></ul><ul><li>High Suicide rate </li></ul><ul><li>Protestants – more individual – less control </li></ul><ul><li>Anomie – times of crisis/upheaval/rapid social change </li></ul><ul><li>Altruistic – where strong bonds/duty </li></ul>
  12. 12. Further studies to support Durkheim <ul><li>Sainsbury – 1960s – London – suicides high for ‘individualist careers’ – responsibility/pressure </li></ul><ul><li>Stengel – social factors behind suicide – widowed, single, economic crisis, high standard of living </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>Graylingwell Report – Europe 1963-74 – impact of female education and changing gender roles </li></ul><ul><li>Ian Goodyer – Psychiatrist – male suicides increase due to changing roles – depression – uncertainty – isolation – men unable to express emotions (gender role) </li></ul><ul><li>Henry & Short – Aggression – frustration – high status (feel failures) whilst poor ‘fight’ </li></ul>
  14. 14. INTERPRETIVISTIC VIEW <ul><li>‘ Social Action Sociology’ </li></ul>
  15. 15. Interpretivist concerns <ul><li>Social interaction </li></ul><ul><li>The social construction of reality </li></ul><ul><li>Human consciousness and the negotiation of social reality – freedom of choice </li></ul><ul><li>Statistics are only subjective measures of ‘gatekeeper’ judgements </li></ul><ul><li>Meanings define the nature of an act </li></ul>
  16. 16. J Douglas – The Meanings of Suicide <ul><li>All acts of self-inflicted death are NOT the same thing </li></ul><ul><li>Context of death is important to know </li></ul><ul><li>Suicide categories: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Transformation of the soul </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Transformation of the self </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A means to achieve fellow feeling </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Revenge </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. J Baechler <ul><li>A modern version of Douglas </li></ul><ul><li>Suicide as a form of problem-solving </li></ul><ul><li>4 types of suicide: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Escapist </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Aggressive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Oblative </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ludic </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. J Maxwell Atkinson <ul><li>Studied the work of coroners </li></ul><ul><li>Suicide is not an objective reality </li></ul><ul><li>Common sense theory of suicide used by coroners </li></ul><ul><li>Factors influencing coroner’s decisions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Suicide note/threats </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mode of death </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Location of death </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Biography of deceased </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Coroners apply stereotypes/categories </li></ul><ul><li>(selective policing) </li></ul>
  19. 19. Other interpretivistic studies <ul><li>Hendricks & Epstein </li></ul><ul><li>Distinguishing between poisoning and suicides is difficult </li></ul><ul><li>Harvey Sacks </li></ul><ul><li>Studied transcripts of ‘samaritans’ calls </li></ul><ul><li>Noted how staff construct reality from the conversations </li></ul>
  20. 20. Moving beyond Positivism vs Interpretivism <ul><li>The work of Dr Steve </li></ul><ul><li>Taylor </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Persons Under Trains’ </li></ul><ul><li>(1989) </li></ul>
  21. 21. ‘ Persons Under Trains’ (1989) <ul><li>Questions usefulness of suicide statistics </li></ul><ul><li>Studied a 12 month period – 32 cases of uncertainty – no strong suicide clues but 17 were defined as suicide </li></ul>
  22. 22. Factors shaping coroner’s decisions <ul><li>History of mental illness </li></ul><ul><li>Social failure </li></ul><ul><li>Social disgrace </li></ul><ul><li>Person at a station for ‘no good reason’ </li></ul><ul><li>Witness comments from family/friends </li></ul>The interpretivistic dimension
  23. 23. Taylor’s model of suicide <ul><li>Suicide is driven by 4 factors </li></ul>Inner directed motives Other directed motives Certainty in life Uncertainty in life
  24. 24. Types of suicide (ctd) <ul><li>ECTOPIC </li></ul><ul><li>SUICIDES </li></ul><ul><li>Submissive </li></ul><ul><li>Thanation </li></ul><ul><li>SYMPHISIC </li></ul><ul><li>SUICIDES </li></ul><ul><li>Sacrifice </li></ul><ul><li>Appeal </li></ul>
  25. 25. INNER – DIRECTED SUICIDES (ECTOPIC) <ul><li>Driven by feelings within a person. </li></ul><ul><li>These people are psychologically detached </li></ul><ul><li>from others. </li></ul><ul><li>Private suicide. </li></ul>
  26. 26. SUBMISSIVE SUICIDES <ul><li>Person is CERTAIN about themselves </li></ul><ul><li>They want to die as not happy with who they are </li></ul><ul><li>They think they have no future – they give in to fate </li></ul>
  27. 27. THANATATION SUICIDES <ul><li>Person is UNCERTAIN about themselves </li></ul><ul><li>Not sure what people think of them – full of doubt </li></ul><ul><li>Suicide = risk taking (they could survive!) </li></ul><ul><li>Chance will decide their fate </li></ul>
  28. 28. OTHER-DIRECTED SUICIDES (SYMPHISIC) <ul><li>Where they have an overwhelming attachment to others </li></ul><ul><li>Not self-contained suicide </li></ul><ul><li>They are a way of communicating with others </li></ul>
  29. 29. SACRIFICE SUICIDES <ul><li>They are CERTAIN about other people and know they have to kill themselves </li></ul><ul><li>Usually something has happened that makes it impossible for them to go on living, ie) an affair. </li></ul><ul><li>They may wish to BLAME others for their death. </li></ul>
  30. 30. Evaluation of Taylor <ul><li>He is interpreting meanings and this may be incorrect/subjective </li></ul><ul><li>Also individuals may have a combination of motives </li></ul><ul><li>Small sample = not very representative </li></ul><ul><li>Unlike Durkheim he hasn’t connected the types of suicide to social structures (although similar links can be noted) </li></ul>
  31. 31. APPEAL SUICIDES <ul><li>The person is UNCERTAIN about others </li></ul><ul><li>They have doubts about their importance to someone else </li></ul><ul><li>The suicide is a way of communicating to change someone else’s behaviour </li></ul><ul><li>Risk taking suicide (they could survive) </li></ul><ul><li>Acts of despair and of hope </li></ul>
  32. 32. Application to Deviance <ul><li>Theory and methods </li></ul><ul><li>Theoretical Deviance Issues </li></ul>Key themes
  33. 33. Deviance issues <ul><li>Think about the Positivist (structural) vs Interpretivism (social action) debate in sociology </li></ul><ul><li>Think how explanations of deviance fit into this divide </li></ul>
  34. 34. Functionalist ‘angle’ <ul><li>Consensus </li></ul><ul><li>Structural – social forces shaping people </li></ul><ul><li>Importance of values </li></ul><ul><li>Faith in official statistics and their collection (objective data) </li></ul><ul><li>Correlations – cause and effect </li></ul><ul><li>Identify ‘typical’ conditions for deviance </li></ul>
  35. 35. The Marxist dilemma <ul><li>They are structural </li></ul><ul><li>They are positivist </li></ul><ul><li>BUT….. </li></ul><ul><li>They are conflict </li></ul><ul><li>They consider individual consciousness </li></ul>
  36. 36. The Marxist ‘angle’ <ul><li>Conflict view – dubious of agencies of control </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of faith is statistics and collection – biased in definitions of deviance (ideological agenda) </li></ul><ul><li>Selective policing </li></ul><ul><li>Invisible deviance – powerful are shielded </li></ul>
  37. 37. Linking Functionalism on deviance and suicide <ul><li>Deviance </li></ul><ul><li>Causes of deviance – variables drive people into crime </li></ul><ul><li>Official statistics show correlations </li></ul><ul><li>Agents behind statistics and collection are neutral/democratic </li></ul><ul><li>There is a ‘normal’ standard – balance in society created by social forces (values/social order etc) </li></ul><ul><li>Suicide </li></ul><ul><li>Causes of suicide – variables drive people to it – moral regulation/social intregration </li></ul><ul><li>Official statistics help find correlations/causes </li></ul><ul><li>Coroner is neutral –objectively records deaths </li></ul><ul><li>There is a ‘normal’ standard in society – a balance of integration and regulation (values/social order etc) </li></ul>
  38. 38. Linking Labelling on deviance and suicide <ul><li>Deviance </li></ul><ul><li>No causes of deviance – people are not driven into crime by social forces </li></ul><ul><li>Deviance is caused by interaction/negotiating of meaning in society </li></ul><ul><li>Behaviour and meanings are socially constructed </li></ul><ul><li>Official statistics are simply a measure of social constructs and bias </li></ul><ul><li>Police/courts/media etc generate and reinforce stereotypes of the deviant </li></ul><ul><li>There is no normal standard in society – deviance is relative. Most people are deviant. </li></ul><ul><li>Some groups exercise power over gatekeeping/selective policing etc (subjective) </li></ul>
  39. 39. <ul><li>Suicide </li></ul><ul><li>There are no causes of suicide – people negotiate reality/free choice </li></ul><ul><li>Official statistics cannot indicate causation – social constructs tell a biased version of events </li></ul><ul><li>Coroners are far from neutral – hold stereotypes/social constructs which distort their findings </li></ul><ul><li>There is no normal standard – no structural model of society which directs people and maintains harmony/order – suicide is a complex process of personal choice in light of experiences. </li></ul><ul><li>Suicide victims apply their own meanings to situations and actions – they are far from directed puppets. </li></ul>
  40. 40. Other suicide studies <ul><li>Rushing (1975) – suicide is the result of labelling somebody as a deviant/with weaknesses ….influence self esteem </li></ul><ul><li>Kobler & Stotland (1964) – social reaction approach to suicide – how people can be made to feel helpless and hopeless by others (self concept – negative/no hope)..societal reaction/labelling </li></ul><ul><li>Jacobs (1967) – looked at how suicidal individuals defined their situation – looked at meanings in suicide notes – found that they; felt situation unsolvable/death is the only answer/life is out of their control </li></ul>
  41. 41. Exam style question <ul><li>Using material from X and elswhere, </li></ul><ul><li>assess the usefulness of different </li></ul><ul><li>sociological approaches to suicide </li></ul><ul><li>(12 marks) </li></ul>