• 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.

The Death Certificate: Civil Registration, Medical Certification, and Social Issues
The death certificate: Civil registration, medical certification, and social issues

Thanatology is both an art and a science. As an art it emphasizes humanistic approaches to death, dying, and bereavement. As a science, it stresses the need for education, inquiry, systematic investigation, and research in approaching these once taboo subjects.

Although death is an individual event, it is also of great social significance. Like birth, marriage, and divorce, death is a socially significant event that is celebrated by rituals and is institutionalized through documentation (Hanzlick 1997). As a social ritual, death is, in the words of John W. Riley, Jr. (1968), “the finalrite de passage” (p. 19). As an institutionalized entity, death entails a legal process of ...

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