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In Suicide, Durkheim looks at the role social order plays in something—suicide—that is seemingly very private and personal. To do so, Durkheim investigates suicide as a social fact that emanates from the social fabric rather than any single individual. After reading the excerpt, respond to the following questions.


1. Durkheim begins the reading by pointing to the high suicide rates in Vienna following a financial crisis in 1873. But he goes on to write that financial crises or, more specifically, poverty resulting from them cannot be the sole culprit of high suicide rates. What evidence does he give to support his conclusion?

2. Why does crisis, whether it be a financial downswing or, seemingly paradoxically, an upsurge in wealth, leave society “momentarily incapable of exercising” its moral influence?

3. Durkheim concludes the reading by contemplating on why anomie and, consequently, anomic suicide has become normal; that is, it has become a constant or “chronic” occurrence. Do you agree with Durkheim that anomie has reached a level of normalcy in modern society? Think of at least one concrete example of a current form of anomie (not necessarily anomic suicide) and describe how it might be analyzed as a social fact.

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