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Running head: DURKHEIM, SOCIAL SOLIDARITY, ANOMIE, AND VETERAN SUICIDE 1 Durkheim, Social Solidarity, Anomie, and the Veteran Suicide Epidemic Travis Snyder American Military University
DURKHEIM, SOCIAL SOLIDARITY, ANOMIE, VETERAN SUICIDE 2 Introduction Today, approximately 22 veterans commit suicide per day (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2019). Most of society, as well as the Veterans Health Administration believe this to be primarily attributed to post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly known as PTSD (Green, 2017). However, from a sociological perspective, the suicide epidemic among veterans may be attributed to social conditions within society more so than psychological issues that stemmed from the veteran’s military experiences. To better understand this, it’s important to understand Emile Durkheim's thesis on the division of labor, in which he explains how social solidarity and collective consciousness are what holds societies together. From small primitive societies to large complex societies, it's important to have strong social bonds, cohesion, and collective consciousness, such as shared values, norms, and beliefs in order for society to function properly. However, when societies experience rapid change, some people are unable to integrate, or adjust to changes. They feel disconnected, without purpose, and confused about their own values and social norms, in which can lead to what Durkheim defined as “anomic suicide” (Longhofer, Winchester, & Baiocchi, 2016). In our modern American society, I believe Durkheim's thesis on solidarity and anomie can be applied to better understand the suicide epidemic among veterans today. Division of labor Emile Durkheim was interested in what holds societies together. He found that division of labor, which refers to the different tasks within a social system, is the primary source for social cohesion, or solidarity within society (Longhofer et al., 2016). Durkheim identified two types of social solidarity to differentiate how societies are held together, which are directly linked to their
DURKHEIM, SOCIAL SOLIDARITY, ANOMIE, VETERAN SUICIDE 3 division of labor. Durkheim characterized these two types as organic solidarity and mechanical solidarity (Longhofer et al., 2016). Societies with mechanical solidarity are typically small, with a low division of labor, as this type of society is less complex than organic solidarity societies (Herzog, 2018). Members share the same, or similar jobs and responsibilities, which don't require specialized tasks among individuals, and members typically share the same purpose. For example, small tribal societies all work together, such as hunting, gathering, building, cooking, and other basic tasks for survival. There are no factories or specialized jobs that require special schooling or training.

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