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Durkheim’s Theory of Egoistic Suicide (review). There is both a simple (even simplistic) and a more complex version of Durkhiem. The simple story is that social integration = the number and strength of ties to groups, and those with fewer ties have higher suicide rates.

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durkheim s theory of egoistic suicide review
Durkheim’s Theory of Egoistic Suicide (review)
  • There is both a simple (even simplistic) and a more complex version of Durkhiem.
  • The simple story is that social integration = the number and strength of ties to groups,
  • and those with fewer ties have higher suicide rates.
  • The more complex story anticipates his analysis of norms and later chapters analysis of groups.
durkheim s theory of altruistic suicide review
Durkheim’s Theory of Altruistic Suicide (review)
  • The simple version of Altruistic suicide is that beyond a certain level, the increase in group bonds promotes suicide.
  • The more complex version is that there are different kinds of groups, and a lack of bonds to some may create particularly intense bonds to others.
  • E.g. “It’s all I’ve got.”
egoism and altruism
Egoism and Altruism

Rate of Suicide





Level of social


  • Social bonds are one of the most important elements of social structure, and different kinds of groups and bonds will come up in virtually every chapter.
  • Durkheim’s theory of egoistic/altruistic suicide applies almost without change to phenomena such as juvenile delinquency, homicide, drug addiction, or political extremism.
anomie 41 3
Anomie *41-3 **
  • Durkheim’s most important contribution to sociology was the analysis of norms and normative integration.
  • Talcott Parsons made that analysis the basis of “structural-functionalism”.
  • Some groups that were neither too bonded not to individualist had high suicide rates because they had weak norms.
  • The weakening of norms is called anomie.
conflict theory marx who gets what and why as the basis of social structure
Conflict theory (Marx): “Who Gets What and Why?” as the Basis of Social Structure
  • For functionalists, social and normative integration is the core of society.
  • For conflict theorists, the core of society is the structure of production and inequality.
  • We have seen that social stratification and inequality is powerfully associated with virtually all behavior. (Table 1.1*)
durkheim s theory of social change structural differentiation
Durkheim’s theory of social Change:Structural Differentiation
  • Durkheim believed that large scale social change was driven by the process of structural differentiation *37-41.
  • Activities such as economic production, health care, or education that used to be performed by kinship structures are carried out by specialists in specialized organizations.
organic solidarity
Organic Solidarity
  • Durkheim argued this involved a shift in the basic normative principles of society:
  • From mechanical solidarity *40-1 ** -- similarities of shared culture (Amish, tribal)
  • To organic solidarity *41 ** -- complementary differences.
  • Organic solidarity requires new principles of human rights, human dignity, equality before the law, inclusive citizenship, etc.
the forced division of labor
The Forced Division of Labor **
  • Organic solidarity does not require equality, but it requires that inequalities be functional, based on motivation and ability, rather than inherited privilege and position.
  • Inherited privilege is a “forced division of labor.”
  • He believed that inherited wealth always tends to lead to inherited social position, and therefore that inheritance must gradually disappear.
marx theory of social change class struggle
Marx’ Theory of Social Change: Class Struggle
  • For Marx, the structure of inequality and the question who gets what and why, is the basis of social structure.
  • Homelessness and mansionization are the flip side of a single coin.
an example of conflict theory
An example of conflict theory
  • Feagin began his 2000 ASA Presidential address by saying that the last 30 years have been the best of times for those at the top and the worst of times for those below.
  • There have been enormous increases in inequality in US and around the world.
  • Mansionization and homelessness are the flip side of a single coin.
  • A spaceship with our inequality of housing, education, health care or power would fail.
the game of monopoly as a model of conflict theory
The game of Monopoly as a model of conflict theory
  • The rules of monopoly mean that no matter how equal the players in ability, the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer until the game is ended by polarization.
  • There are many processes that operate this way: those who have resources are in a better position to gain more.
  • Marx argues that the resulting polarization drives history.
a feedback representation of conflict theory
A feedback representation of conflict theory:

Resources e.g.wealth

Access to more resources e.g. education