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.

Security and Insecurity

Security and Insecurity

Security and Insecurity

This chapter introduces two socio-political theories about how, as societies modernize, objective levels and subjective perceptions of risk change. The theories are Ronald Inglehart’s theory of post-materialism (which might be better termed ‘post-scarcity’), and Ulrich Beck’s theory of risk society. I then do something which has not been done before, namely apply these theories to death, dying, and bereavement. The chapter concludes by combining the two in an attempt to explain the rise of the death awareness movement that has for some decades been challenging modernity’s medicalization, commodification and supposed denial of death and dying.


Karl Marx argued that our values and beliefs derive in large measure from our economic position. This seminal idea then informed American political scientist Ronald ...

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