Death comes to all humans, but how death is managed, symbolised and experienced varies widely, not only between individuals but also between groups. What then shapes how a society manages death, dying and bereavement today? Are all modern countries similar? How important are culture, the physical environment, national histories, national laws and institutions, and globalization? This is the first book to look at how all these different factors shape death and dying in the modern world. Written by an internationally renowned scholar in death studies, and drawing on examples from around the world, including the UK, USA, China and Japan, The Netherlands, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. This book investigates how key factors such as money, communication technologies, the family, religion, and war, interact in complex ways to shape people’s experiences of dying and grief. Essential reading for students, researchers and professionals across sociology, anthropology, social work and healthcare, and for anyone who wants to understand how countries around the world manage death and dying.
Part I: Modernity
Modern societies are often thought of as affluent and urban, with skyscrapers rather than mud huts gracing the skyline, and there is some truth in this picture. But modernity’s most profound impact on individuals, families, and society has been in reducing premature death. Plague, famine, and even arguably war have been controlled (Harari, 2015). As countries develop economically, death for most is postponed into old age, often into late old age, something that few humans throughout history and prehistory could have hoped for. Indeed, economic development from pre-industrial to post-industrial typically more than doubles life expectancy at birth. This extraordinary achievement results from economic and technological development, not least in food production and distribution, sanitation, and medicine – it is in extending human ...