Clive Seale's Theory Of Suicide

Topics: Sociology, Death, Religion Pages: 7 (1519 words) Published: August 23, 2015


The sociology of death and its associated theories extensively cover a range of topics and issues, including Durkheim’s theory of suicide and the concept of medicalization. This paper will outline and explain a range of issues relative to the sociology of death via discussion of less traditional theories that are not covered in this course. Possible limitations surrounding each outlook will also be discussed. This essay will explain the theories Clive Seale discussed in his 1998 work, Constructing Death: The Sociology of Dying and Bereavement, including the social organization surrounding death, the death denying thesis and the relationship between medicine and religion in an attempt to understand the supposed afterlife and the reason behind...

Theories surrounding the understanding and meaning of death tend to focus on either religion or medicine. Religious attitudes to death are more abstract, while the medical world attempts to separate the living from the dead and the ill from the healthy, providing rationality in the face of demise (Seale 1998, p. 75). Seale (1998, p. 76) describes religion as a means of relieving death anxiety for the living; explaining that those who believe in an afterlife have a less dramatic relationship with death. Harding, Flannelly, Weaver and Costa (2005, p. 253) substantiate this idea with findings that show significantly less death anxiety and considerably more death acceptance amongst religious groups. Moreover Freud (cited in Koenig, 2001, p. 98) sates that “only religion can give meaning to life”. In contrast Seale (1998, p. 75) explains the medicinal outlook on death in two distinct veins, the first being the “best hope” for those who are suffering and are close to death and the second being a “reasonable account” for why all people must die. In addition Seale (1998, p. 77) places medicine and death in direct opposition stating that medicine seeks to cure the “natural death”. Contrastingly, Zola (2011, p. 487) states that the role of medicine within death is not concerned with saving lives, but instead with the controlling of terminally ill or elderly patients. This thought is ripe throughout work surrounding palliative care (see Conrad 1992), however some scholars see the implementation of medical care as simply providing support for those on the verge of passing (Zimmerman & Rodin, 2004, p. 122). In summary, both religious and medicinal approaches to understanding death by the living are still both extremely popular, however the array of works which document...
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