Dr. Nitzan Rothem - Intellectual, Moral and Practical Imperatives: Assessing Two Moments in the Sociology of Suicide

Dr. Nitzan Rothem - Intellectual, Moral and Practical Imperatives: Assessing Two Moments in the Sociology of Suicide
Activity Date: 
Monday, Mar 28, 2016

In this Monday's colloquium I plan to discuss the knowledge that is created when suicide is examined by sociologists, comparing two periods of academic labor. The study of self-inflicted death generates in its researchers moral and practical aspirations: first, of saving people from themselves, and second, of protecting a positive image of the shared world as worth participating in. Seeking to fulfill these aspirations, contemporary sociologists take part in a multidisciplinary research, which is psychological in its essence. In contrast, Durkheim (1897) gave suicide an explanation that illustrated sociology's unique contribution. Whereas Durkheim envisioned a social reform with the purpose of preventing suicide, current sociological research focuses on recognizing risk factors for improving screening procedures of individuals who might commit suicide. Accepting the prevention agenda, both intellectual periods limit the spectrum of understanding suicide, yet they shape different portrayals of the social world.
I find this content suitable for the Buber Society's colloquium as it addresses two topics that concern the group: 1) the scientific atmosphere of offering practical results as well as presenting moral sensitivities, and 2) the scopes of scientific disciplines and the relations among them. In addition, the fellows might find interest in the concept of "organic solidarity" which I try to revive. I asked Philipp to help me think about this concept and thank him for agreeing to enlarge his role as discussant.