Suicide and Society

Review of Video #5 of Crash Course Sociology.

Émile Durkheim was the founder of the structural functionalist paradigm. He viewed society as composed of social facts, and held together by common consciousness. Social facts comprise the ‘manners of acting, thinking and feeling external to the individual, which are invested with a coercive power by virtue of which they exercise control over him’. The common consciousness refers to the collection of all the beliefs, morals and ideas that are the social facts of society.

This normal functioning of society can evolve, but social dysfunction can impede the normal functioning of society. To Durkheim, such social dysfunction had larger structural causes. By studying society scientifically and understanding social facts, sociologists can diagnose the disease and prescribe the cure.

Durkheim’s book, “Suicide”, was the first piece of sociological work to use statistical methods as its primary mode of argument. He used statistics in new ways as evidence and tests for theories in society.




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