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.
Westerners are increasingly claiming the right to die and grieve as they see fit, and this idea is promoted by the death awareness movement, palliative care, advance directives and the euthanasia and abortion movements. But death affects not only individuals; it also threatens to tear apart the social fabric, and death rituals often function to help repair the torn fabric. A major part of the social fabric typically torn by death is the family. So the family shapes both death’s threat, and how the threat is dealt with. This is true in any society – but families are not the same in all societies (Todd, 2019).
Each family is an arena of norms and everyday practices – it is part of culture. At the ...