• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Dying is a social as well as physiological phenomenon. Each society characterizes and, consequently, treats death and dying in its own individual ways—ways that differ markedly. These particular patterns of death and dying engender modal cultural responses, and such institutionalized behavior has familiar, economical, educational, religious, and political implications. The Handbook of Death and Dying takes stock of the vast literature in the field.

Dying in a Total Institution: The Case of Death in Prison
Dying in a total institution: The case of death in prison

Over the past 100 years, Americans' common experience and social view of death have changed markedly. At the beginning of the 20th century, death was likely to occur at any age and was especially common among the very young. In 1900 in the United States, half of all deaths occurred among children under 15 years of age, and infant mortality rates were quite high by today's standards. Because deaths were usually the result of infections, diseases, or accidents, they could occur to anyone at any time, and they could occur suddenly. People usually died in bed at home.

Not only has the timing of death ...

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