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Understanding Suicide: A Sociological Autopsy

posted on 2023-06-07, 19:40 authored by Ben FinchamBen Fincham, Susanne Langer, Jonathon Scourfield, Michael Shiner
Suicide has an important place in the history of sociology, because of Durkheim's famous study and the debates that have followed since it was published more than a century ago. The sociological study of suicide remains a powerful illustration of competing paradigms. The bold aim of this book is to make a new contribution to this classic sociological debate. The authors highlight the importance of qualitatively-driven, mixed methods sociological research on individual suicides, coining the term 'sociological autopsy' to describe their ESRC-funded study of 100 suicide case files. They illustrate how qualitative and quantitative data can be combined; and navigate the dual paradigms of objectivism and constructionism, examining what can be known about suicidal lives and also taking a critical stance on the knowledge itself. Substantive themes developed in the book include the gendered character of suicidal behaviour, the role of the life-course and the importance of social bonds, especially intimate relationships.


Publication status

  • Published


Palgrave Macmillan



Department affiliated with

  • Sociology and Criminology Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

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