Anomie and Egoistic Suicide Term Paper

Pages: 2 (778 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Sociology

Durkheim's explanation of anomie and egoistic suicide is a valid reflection of social reality, what patterns of suicide might we expect to observe in contemporary American social life?

A hate myself and I want to die." During the height of the popularity of the Nirvana musician Kurt Cobain, and the wake of his much-publicized suicide, these words emblazoned across the dead musician's brooding image were a popular motif for posters. Cobain's picture and words were hung on the walls of many dorm rooms across the nation. Kurt Cobain, and many less famous and less talented egoistic suicides embody Durkheim's analysis of modern life as an era in which persons feel little responsibility for others and have no sense of positive purpose or shared goals with larger society. Such persons seek to medicate their despair with individualistic rather than collective solutions like drug abuse, nihilistic art, and finally, self-inflicted death.

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According to Durkheim, once upon a time, societies were bound by a common sense of shared ethics and values that bound persons together, and essentially gave people a reason to live. However, industrialization and urbanization meant that increasingly modern men and women found themselves alienated from their families and traditional expectations of how their lives should evolve. Without a sense of stability, and meaningful goals, these modern individuals were cast adrift, and forced to create new institutions and reasons to live for themselves, a daunting prospect. Many persons were unable to do so, and hence the modern state of humanity, that of anomie.

Term Paper on Anomie and Egoistic Suicide Assignment

Anomie, or alienation and emptiness often gave rise to egoistic suicides. Unlike altruistic suicides, who found themselves too integrated into a community ideology (like Christian martyrs who sacrificed themselves for God, or modern cult suicides) egotistic suicides felt no sense of responsibility to family, or to a larger schema of values that prohibited suicide. Bereft of a social group, unclear of their long-term goals, these suicides despaired of ever finding their true purpose in life. These suicides were unhappy, and felt that their lives meant nothing -- not to themselves, to their family (whom they were estranged from or had little contact with) or to church, state or community.

If one accepts that egoistic, rather than altruistic or other forms of suicide are the most common kind of suicide in modern life, one would expect to see… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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