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Death, religion, and family may be three topics that closely link together, forming a bloc that remains interesting to researchers. The purpose of the article by Breault is analyzing the link between deathly tendencies and a person’s societal affiliations based on Emile Durkheim’s theory, which states that a person becomes more suicidal when unintegrated into a community (628). However, before recognizing the article’s scientific and personal influence, it is necessary to acknowledge its used methods and achieved results.
The article’s results may influence the recognition of the community’s role, propagating the supremacy humankind’s social nature over individualism. Thus, the article formulates a hypothesis that a person’s disassociation with a religious denomination and their divorced marital status are “determinants of suicide rates” (Breault 651). Breault poses multiple research questions to prove this hypothesis, such as questioning the link between a country’s high suicide rates and its agnosticism (630).
The study formulates another query regarding the influence of a person’s family on their desire for suicide, with lonely individuals being the most susceptible to death (Breault 633). Thus, the author tests the possibility of a correlation between chosen data and Durkheim’s theory.
Answering these questions may be possible using a correlational analysis applied to chosen statistical data. Breault uses these methods to analyze data between 1933 and 1980, taking into consideration religious affiliation, such as Catholic and non-Catholic, divorce rates, demographics, and income information (636). Thus, the inclusion of the latter allows controlling for hypothesis-independent variables and achieving results that relate solely to religion and marital status (Breault 634).
Additionally, Breault uses analysis of covariance and difference-of-means tests to account successfully for possible disparities within various means of religious identification (645). Therefore, the negative correlation found between a person’s suicide, religious affiliation, and married status may adequately support Durkheim’s theory.
Reading the assigned article allows not only attaining a level of knowledge regarding 20th-century suicidal tendencies but also recognizing the use of various research methods. However, while the implemented statistical tools support the claim that lonely, irreligious individuals are more likely to commit suicide, this approach does not provide an analysis of the person’s motives, despite controlling for outside influences. Thus, understanding the drawbacks of statistical and correlational methods of research, as well as their advantages, allows achieving a higher comprehension of scientific approaches.
Breault, Kevin D. “Suicide in America: A Test of Durkheim’s Theory of Religious and Family Integration, 1933-1980.” American Journal of Sociology, vol. 92, no. 3, 1986, pp. 628-656.