Academic journal article Health Sociology Review

Editorial

Academic journal article Health Sociology Review

Editorial

Article excerpt

I am very pleased to introduce HSR readers to this special issue on death and dying. Seven excellent papers appear in this issue examining a range of contemporary issues and questions from bereavement and the (mis)management of dying to the role of the body or death denial in policy formulation or media representation. I am especially pleased to see in this issue a preponderance of Australian contributors. Like many other countries, the field of death and dying began by being dominated by medical and psychological perspectives in these topic areas. Now, social approaches to theory development, criticism or empirical studies are establishing a significant place alongside these other views. This is clearly happening in Australia now no less than in other countries that have longer sociological traditions in the study of death, most notably the United Kingdom and the USA.

It is also worth noting that although hospice and palliative care has experienced rapid rise and development in the last 30 years the interest in the study of death and dying from these colleagues remain modest. It remains true that the most significant number of empirical studies of death and dying as well as theoretical contributions continue to come from the social sciences and not, rather disappointingly, from palliative care researchers. Palliative care remains focussed on a health services agenda of research that continually promotes a concern with the body, its symptoms and management, and the problem of service design and delivery. Studies of carers remain greater than studies of people at the very centre of the service: the dying and bereaved.

In sociology, research questions about death and dying have been closely identified with health - as they still are - but the current range of articles in this issue does remind readers, who may usually research outside these topics, that sociological concerns about death are inclusive of questions and theories beyond health. …

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