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The world is currently experiencing tremendous turbulence both in the social and political sphere with the erosion of social norms. Emile Durkheim is considered as a pioneer in the field of sociology and has played a key role in shaping modern thoughts in regard to the society. His works provide a good background to understandings the perennial problems associated with modernity. One such issue is the rising cases of mass shootings in the United States. Mass shootings are often associated with suicide and defined as murder-suicides as a majority of perpetrators embark on the shooting spree expected to end up dead. The paper analyzes the recent mass shootings as they relate to Durkheim’s theory.
Durkheim introduced the idea that society is not only a collection of individuals but also the cultural and social structures that shape and impose individual actions and thoughts. One of the social facts he discussed was suicide, where he argues that suicide is a reflection of the degree of national cohesion in society. According to Durkheim, cases of mental illness and the increasing suicide rates do not concentrate on individual psychology but instead takes into account various macro conditions such as institutions in the society and the culture. Thus, suicide cases are likely to increase in a society where members feel disconnected and alienated from each other.
Durkheim identified three aspects that often lead to suicide, namely egotistic, altruistic, and anomic, with each of them, reflecting a societal reality. The societal realities are individual personalities, patriotism, and progress. The aspects lead human beings to opposite directions, but there is a need to balance them so as to reduce suicidal tendencies. As Watts highlights, an imbalance in the three aspects leads to a state of disequilibrium, driving an individual to suicidal thoughts. Self-inflicted deaths or incidents of mass shootings are likely to occur.
In addition, Durkheim argues that forms of strong integration such as family and the nation protect individuals against suicide, and the increasing cases of mass shootings, are a result of societal disintegration. The disintegration makes individuals lose the sense of social meanings and result in anomic suicide due to frustration and world-weariness that is conducive to homicide. This often arises from cultural failure where individuals become unhappy mainly due to economic calamities or sudden prosperity.
It is also worth noting that a majority of the perpetrators are male. The shooters often leave trails digitally that blame their actions by the perceived loss of their status or power in the society. Such shootings are a reflection of a widely patriarchal and white supremacist society. The perpetrators often feel disrespected by women who do not obey their desires. Their actions show how the social context is ever-changing with the historical forms of domination and power shifting and a society convincing such people that the changes are wrong, and they still deserve to be in control or power. This condition, as described by Durkheim, is known as anomie, and it refers to a situation where an individual feels destabilized and disconnected from society.
In conclusion, the pattern of mass shootings is a reflection of Durkheim’s theory in modern society. The theory shows how mass shootings say something about society and are a reflection of the feelings and tendencies beyond the perpetrators. The perpetrators often feel alienated and find themselves in a culture that does not satisfy their aspirations. To address the issue, there is a need for the whole country to dig deeper into itself and identify the cultural and societal issues that drive the perpetrators into such acts.