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Émile Durkheim Sociology 100 Collective tendencies have an existence of their own.

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Presentation on theme: "Émile Durkheim Sociology 100 Collective tendencies have an existence of their own."— Presentation transcript:

1 Émile Durkheim Sociology 100 Collective tendencies have an existence of their own

2 Altruistic Suicide In the order of existence, no good is measureless. A biological quality can fulfill the purposes it is meant to serve on condition that it does not transgress certain limits. So with social phenomena. If, as we have just seen, excessive individuation leads to suicide, insufficient individuation has the same effects. – When man has become detached from society, he encounters less resistance to suicide in himself, and he does so likewise when the social imagination is too strong. (217) 2

3 Altruistic Suicide It has sometimes been said that suicide was unknown among lower [i.e. non-European] societies. While egoistic suicide is unknown, another form exists among them in an endemic state. (218) Goths believe men who die a natural death are destined to languish forever in caverns full of venomous creatures. (218) Women in parts of India burn themselves on husbands funeral pyre (219) Followers and servants kill themselves on death of their leader (219) Now, when a person kills himself, in all these cases, it is not because he assumes the right to do so but, on the contrary, because it is his duty. If he fails in this obligation, he is dishonored and also punished, usually, by religious sanctions. – The weight of society is thus brought to bear on him to lead him to destroy himself. (219) – A social prestige thus attaches to suicide. (222) Honor and duty, thus altruistic (221) 3

4 Altruistic Suicide Animated by passion and will, typified by calm feeling of duty, religious enthusiasm, or peaceful courage (293) – Imposed for social ends, to enforce the dtrict interdependence between leaders and followers (220) – The destiny of one must be that of the others. – Followers must die with leaders; leaders must not be weak Status There can be only one cause for this feeble individuation itself. For the individual to occupy so little place in collective life he must be almost completely absorbed in the group and the latter, accordingly, very highly integrated. For the parts to have so little life of their own, the whole must indeed be a compact, continuous mass. (221) – Not always obligatory, but always valued as a good in itself (224) 4

5 Martyrs There are no suicides with a more defnitively altruistic character. We actually see the individual in all these cases seek to strip himself of his personal being in order to be engulfed in something which he regards as his true essence. (225) – Whatever the believer calls it, he seeks to lose himself entirely in what he believes to be the ultimate truth Martyrdom springs from hope; for it depends on the belief in beautiful perspectives beyond this life. It even implies enthusiasm and the spur of a faith egerly seeking satisfaction, affirming itself by acts of extreme energy. (225-226) – A form of suicide that is positively valued even by individualized cultures, like Christian Europe (226, 227) – Though they did not kill themselves, they sought death with all their power and behaved so as to make it inevitable. (227) 5

6 Altruistic Suicide in the Military Altruistic suicide is even commonly found in modern (1897) Europe, in the special society that is the military – Societies within larger societies Soldiers are healthy, and fully integrated into a robustly coherent society, yet suicide is common among them. (229) Why? – Commit suicide at rates distinct from the civilian population (230-231) 6

7 Altruistic Suicide in the Military Hate military life? – But suicide increases with years served, when the soldier has acclimated (231-232) – Volunteers and re-enlistees kill themselves more often than conscripts (233) – Officers, who live much more comfortable lives than enlistees, kill themselves more often (233) Though non-commissioned officers kill themselves more than soldiers of any other rank 7

8 Altruistic Suicide in the Military The first quality of the soldier is a sort of impersonality not to be found anywhere in civilian life to the same degree. He must be trained to set little value upon himself, since he must be prepared to sacrifice himself upon being ordered to do so. (234) – Discipline requires him to obey without question and sometimes even without understanding. For this an intellectual abnegation hardly consistent with individualism is required. – He must have but a weak tie binding him to his individuality, to obey external impulsion so docilely. In short, a soldier's principle of action is external to himself; which is the quality of the state of altruism. 8

9 Altruistic Suicide in the Military This explains the pattern of suicide rates in the military (234) – The more acclimated to military life, the more de-individuation takes place – Even explains why non-commissioned officers have the highest suicide rates, as they are the most conditioned to passive obedience – Enlistees less acclimated, officers must exercise initiative Little valuing his own life, the soldier kills himself at the least disappointment, for the most futile reasons, for a refusal of leave, a reprimand, an unjust punishment, a delay in promotion, a question of honor, a flush of momentary jealousy or even because other suicides have occurred before his eyes or to his knowledge. (239) 9

10 Anomic Suicide Anomy – A-: absent, not, without – Nomos: law Why do people kill themselves during industrial and economic crises? – Not because of poverty, as poverty-stricken 1897 Ireland shows has very low suicide rates. (245) If therefore industrial or financial crises increase suicides, this is not because the cause poverty, since crises of prosperity have the same result; it is because they are crises. Every disturbance of the equilibrium, even though it acheives greater comfort and a heightening of general vitality, is an impulse to voluntary death. (246) – Why? 10

11 Anomic Suicide All limits to human appetites and ambitions are socially created, there is no organic limitation on them (248) – But in times of crisis, these social constraints are broken, and appetites are without limit To pursue a goal which is by definition unattainable is to condemn oneself to a state of perpetual unhappiness. – Momentary joy of satisfying a need, but never satiated – Happiness only possible if one is blind to the futility of ones actions and one never encounters a an obstacle to acquisition (248) 11

12 Origins of Anomy Social hierarchies act to constrain and limit desire (250) – I did pretty good for being a factory workers son! But only if people consider the distributions of functions and rewards to be just (250) – Social consensus – Hierarchy becomes experienced as tyranny or exploitation when this consensus breaks down (250-252) 12

13 Origins of Anomy In an economic disaster, some are suddenly cast into a lower economic state than they had been – Then they must reduce their requirements, restrain their needs, learn greater self-control. [...] Their moral education has to be recommenced. (252) But society as a whole develops slowly, and cannot keep up with the convulsions of a capitalist economy – Moral equilibrium cannot be found: The limits are unknown between the possible and the impossible, what is just and unjust, legitimate claims and those which are immoderate. Consequently, there is no restraint upon aspirations. (253) Poverty protects against suicide because it is a restraint in itself. Wealth, on the other hand, by the power it bestows, deceives us into believing that we depend on ourselves only. Reducing the resistance we encounter from objects, it suggests the possibility of unlimited success against them. The less limited one feels, the more intolerable all limitation appears. (254) 13

14 Origins of Anomy For a whole century, economic progress has mainly consisted in freeing industrial relations from all regulation. Until very recently, it was a function of a whole system of moral forces to exert this discipline. (254) – The economic sphere of life under capitalism produces a chronic state of anomy Religion initially checked the behavior of the owners and consoled the worker, but has lost much of its power due to erosion by market forces Government, instead of regulating economic life, has become its tool and servant. (255) – The appetites thus excited have become freed from any limiting authority have become freed of any limiting authority. By sanctifying them, so to speak, this apotheosis of well-being has placed them above all human law. Their restraint seems like a sort of sacrilege. (255) 14

15 Origins of Anomy Such is the source of the excitement predominating in this part of society, and which has thence extended to the other parts. There, the state of crisis and anomy is constant and, so to speak, normal. (256) – The man who has always pinned all his hopes on the future and lived with his eyes fixed upon it, has nothing in the past as a comfort against the presents afflictions, for the past was nothing to him but a series of hastily experienced stages. [...] Weariness alone, moreover, is enough to bring disillusionment, for he cannot in the end escape the futility of an endless pursuit. (256) – The doctrine of progress exalts this pursuit, but cannot guard against the experience of anomy (257) Anomy, therefore, is a regular and specific factor in our modern societies; one of the springs from which the annual contingent [of suicides] feeds. (258) 15

16 Anomy and Suicide Anomic suicide thus results from mans activitys lacking regulation and his consequent sufferings. (258) – Typified by disgust or disappointment. Also commonly characterized by violent recriminations against life in general or a specific person. (293) – As egoistic suicide is common among intellectual classes, anomic suicide is typical of the world of commerce and industry. (258) – Human beings need regulation & restraint Durkheims theory on divorce & anomic suicide rely on the belief that men naturally require a greater regulation of their sexuality, while women have weaker sex urges and thus dont need it as much. (259-276) – This asserts as natural a socially constructed relationship, and is less useful for our purposes. 16

17 Suicide as Sociological Phenomenon The relations of suicide to certain states of social development are as direct and constant as its relations to facts of a biological and physical character were seen to be real and unambiguous. Here at last we are face to face with real laws, allowing us to attempt a methodological classification of types of suicide. (299) – The conclusion from all these facts is that the social suicide- rate can be explained only sociologically. – This is why there is nothing which cannot serve as an occasion for suicide. It all depends on the intensity with which suicidogenic causes have affected the individual. (300) – No unhappiness in life necessarily causes a man to kill himself unless he is otherwise so inclined. (306) 17

18 The Social Fact Not merely are there suicides each year, but there are as a general rule as many each year as in the year preceding. (308) – The state of mind which causes men to kill themselves is not purely and simply transmitted, butsomething much more remarkable transmitted to an equal number of persons, all in such situations as to make the state of mind become an act. Collective tendencies have an existence of their own; they are forces as real as cosmic forces, though of another sort; they, likewise, affect the individual from without, though through other channels. (309) – The proof that the reality of collective tendencies is no less than that of cosmic forces is that this reality is demonstrated in the same way, by the uniformity of effects. Science 18

19 The Social Fact Individuals by combining form a psychical existence of a new species, which consequently has its own manner of thinking and feeling. (310) – Of course the elementary qualities of which the social fact consists are present in germ in individual minds. But the social fact emerges from them only when they have been transformed by association since it is only then that it appears. – Association itself is also an active factor productive of special effects. In itself it is therefore something new. 19

20 The Social Fact When the consciousness of individuals, instead of remaining isolated, becomes grouped and combined, something in the world has been altered. (310-311) – Naturally, this change produces others, this novelty engenders other novelties, phenomena appear whose characteristic qualities are not found in the elements composing them. 20

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