The landmark investigation into suicide and society-now in a new translation ?mile Durkheim, one of the fathers of modern sociology, was the first to suggest that suicide might be as much a response to society as an act of individual despair. When he looked at social, religious, or racial groups that had high incidences of suicide, he discovered that abnormally high or low levels of social integration increase the likelihood of suicide. More than a century after its initial publication, Durkheim's groundbreaking work continues to fascinate and challenge those seeking to understand one of the least understandable of human acts.
David Emile Durkheim (1858 - 1917) is known as one of the founders of modern sociology. Robin Buss is a journalist and translator. His most recent translations for Penguin include The Plague by Camus and The Black Tulip by Dumas. He lives in London. Richard Sennett is Professor of Sociology at the LSE and Bemis Professor of Social Sciences at MIT. His three most recent books are studies of modern capitalism: The Culture of the New Capitalism, (Yale, 2006), Respect in an Age of Inequality, (Penguin, 2003) and The Corrosion of Character, (Norton 1998). He is currently writing a book on craftmanship. Alexander Riley is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, USA. He is the author of numerous articles on Durkheimian thought, including a contribution to The Cambridge Companion to Durkheim (Cambridge 2005) on the transgressive sacred, and the co-editor (with Philippe Besnard) of the correspondence of Durkheim's student Robert Hertz Un Ethnologue dans les tranche'es (CNRS E'ditions 2002.