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Study of Anomie and Suicide in the Modern Culture

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Study of Anomie and Suicide in the Modern Culture

3.5 Sociology-I

Submitted by

Aditya Swarup Singh




Submitted to

Dr. Deepmala Baghel

Assistant Professor of Sociology

[pic 1]

Maharashtra National Law University, Nagpur

Table of Contents

Introduction        3

CONCEPT OF ANOMIE AND Requiem for a Dream        5

What is Suicide?        9

Extra-Social Causes        11

Social Causes and Social Types        13

Egoistic Suicide        15

Altruistic Suicide        16

Anomic Suicide        17

Suicide as a Social Phenomenon        18

Critical Remarks        19

Conclusion        20


Anomie is defined in encyclopedia Britannica as “a condition of instability, resulting from a breakdown of standards and values or from a lack of purpose or ideals.” Theory of anomie was proposed by Durkheim in his book Division of Labor but later he developed this idea in suicide. In the final chapter of Division of Labor Durkheim emphasized on the occupational rules and anomic division of labor in economic crisis as he explained about lack of solidarity in society that “it is because the relation of organs are not regulated, because they are in a state of anomy” (363) . On the other hand, in his suicide Durkheim illustrates four types of suicide and argues the concept of anomie as a lack of social regulation when moral rules are simply confused or not presented. He also defines anomic suicide as a result of detachment from guiding norms and values which keep individuals together.

 Durkheim believed that one type of suicide (anomic) resulted from the breakdown of the social standards necessary for regulating behaviour. When a social system is in a state of anomie, common values and common meanings are no longer understood or accepted, and new values and meanings have not developed. According to Durkheim, such a society produces, in many of its members, psychological states characterized by a sense of futility, lack of purpose, and emotional emptiness and despair. Striving is considered useless, because there is no accepted definition of what is desirable.

Anomie is a very old term. The word entered the English language in 1591, and in the next century became associated with a “disregard for divine law” (Midgley 1971: 37). Émile Durkheim himself became familiar with the term through philosopher Jean Marie Guyau, but “after reviewing Guyau’s work, Durkheim coined his own definition of anomie in exact opposition to Guyau’s” (Orrù 1990: 232). After a period of disuse, the term resurfaced in the 1930s in the works of Elton Mayo, Talcott Parsons, and Robert Merton. The 1950s saw a heavy backlash against anomie theory, since it was associated with functionalism and therefore seen as conservative. But the term revived itself, again, in the work of criminologists and psychologists, who used anomie to explain deviance and “disaffection,” respectively (Borgatta & Montgomery 2000: 165). Today, even those passionate movements are beginning to dissipate: the word has seen fewer and fewer mentions every year si 1993[1]. Besnard’s death sentence may be entirely superfluous; anomie theory is dying of its own accord.

As an object of sociological inquiry, suicide has had a long and strange career. At different moments since the birth of the discipline, it has variously served as a foundational subject for the establishment of the discipline, as a proving ground for methodological debates, and as an index of social integration nonpareil. Although sociological investigations of suicide flourished through the 1970s, the closing decades of the twentieth century saw sociological interest in the topic wane. This same period, however, witnessed increased attention to suicide from medical professionals, public health researchers, expert policy makers, and legislators, culminating in The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Suicide (U.S. Public Health Service 1999), the Institute of Medicine’s Reducing Suicide: A National Imperative (Goldsmith et al. 2002), the Centers for Disease Control’s (2008) report on preventing suicide through social connectedness, the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act authorizing millions in federal funds for suicide prevention (2004), and the implementation of comprehensive suicide prevention plans in dozens of states.

We argue that the present situation is problematic for sociology, for the scientific research agenda on suicide, and for the creation of solutions to this pressing social problem. In an age when biomedicine and genomics tend to dominate scientific and public policy debates, including the understanding of health and mortality outcomes, sociological research that strictly follows its own disciplinary boundaries is out of step with current emphases on complexity and multidisciplinary. Equally undesirable is the decision to abandon suicide research to other disciplines and perspectives.

CONCEPT OF ANOMIE AND Requiem for a Dream

Requiem for a Dream is one of Selby's most powerful works, and an indelible portrait of the ravages of addiction. Harry and Tyron are minor Heroin consumers when the story begins but later on when they decide to start their own business they become addicted until their habits destroy their dreams. Same story happens for Harry's mother Sara when she receives a call from her favorite diet show which invites her to be a participant in future, so she becomes addicted to strong diet pills in order to be fit in her red dress.

 According to Clinard and Meier ideas:

           Norms can change over time, and some drugs not considered deviant at one time may open users to sanctions at another time. Most attitudes identifying drug use as deviance developed during 20th century. Prior to this time, U. S society widely tolerated drug use in many forms. During 19th century, people regarded drug addiction as a personal problem, generally pitying addicts rather than condemning them. Only later did addicts experience stigma of disreputable characters and addiction gain an association with criminal behavior. Changes public opinion and subsequent changes in the legal status of some drugs seem to have followed public acceptance of associations between drug use and disvalued people or lifestyle.



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