1st Edition

Critical Approaches to Death, Dying and Bereavement

By Erica Borgstrom, Renske Visser Copyright 2025
    198 Pages
    by Routledge

    198 Pages
    by Routledge

    Critical Approaches to Death Dying and Bereavement is the first of its kind to examine key topics in death, dying and bereavement through a critical lens, highlighting how the understanding and experience of death can vary considerably, based on social, cultural, historical, political, and medical contexts. It looks at the complex ways in which death and dying are managed, from the political level down to end of life care, and the inequalities that surround and impact experiences of death, dying and bereavement.

    Readers are introduced to key theories such as the medicalisation, as well as contemporary issues, such as social movements, pandemics, and assisted dying. The book stresses how death is not only a biological process or event, but rather shaped by a range of intersecting factors. Issues of inequalities in health, inequities in support, and intersectional analyses are to the fore, and each chapter is dedicated to an issue that has interdisciplinary resonance, thus showcasing the wider socio-cultural and political factors that impact this time of life.

    It is valuable reading for scholars in thanatology and death studies, and for those in related fields such as sociology of health, medical and social anthropology and interdisciplinary social science courses.

    Chapter 1: Introduction
    Section 1: Populations, Politics and Society
    Chapter 2: Thinking with and beyond mortality statistics
    Chapter 3: Policy and Death
    Chapter 4: Mass death events and shifting death practices
    Chapter 5: Social movements and death
    Section 2: Dying
    Chapter 6: Medicalisation of dying
    Chapter 7: Palliative Care and the Modern Hospice Movement
    Chapter 8: Assisted dying
    Chapter 9: Disenfranchised dying
    Section 3: The aftermath of death
    Chapter 10: The dead body and disposal practices
    Chapter 11: Grief theories and therapies
    Chapter 12: Suicide
    Chapter 13: Conclusion


    Erica Borgstrom is Professor of Medical Anthropology at The Open University in the United Kingdom. She leads Open Thanatology, the Open University's interdisciplinary research group for the study and education of death, dying, loss and grief across the life course, and is co-editor in chief for the interdisciplinary journal Mortality and Bristol University Press book series Death and Culture.

    Renske Visser is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Oulu in Finland. She runs blog Dead Good Reading (www.deadgoodreading.com) featuring books about death, dying and loss. She also co-hosts The Death Studies Podcast. She was previously the administrator for the Association for the Study of Death and Society (ASDS).

    "Looking at how power operates through government, law, media, professions and social movements to shape how we die and grieve, validating some deaths and discounting others, this book provides a much needed critical edge to death studies."

    --Professor Tony Walter, University of Bath, UK

    “Borgstrom and Visser expertly chart how death, dying, and bereavement are considered as health matters, and as social processes. They shine much-needed light on the ways in which culture, power, and inequality influence the management and experience of loss. Compulsory reading for the death studies curriculum."

    --Emma Kirby, PhD. Professor of Sociology at UNSW Sydney, Australia