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.
This chapter discusses not specific medical and health technologies, such as drugs, MRI scanners, or sewage systems, but health techniques: practices, policies, modes of organization, and power that place dying, death, and bereavement firmly, though not totally, within the orbit of medicine and health. These practices and modes of organization can shape how lay people as well as professionals think about dying and loss. When the family of a gravely ill person are asked how she or he is, the answer may well comprise, or at least include, a report on their physical condition couched in medical terms: ‘The nurses are giving him morphine and that has helped’ or ‘The operation failed, and she’s declining fast’. Non-medical answers such as ‘He was pleased ...