• Current social trends and challenges for the dying person

      Kellehear, Allan (2017)
      Buried deep inside the debates on how we should die - with or without palliative care or euthanasia -and where we should die - in hospitals, nursing homes, hospices or in our own homes—lie two strange and persistent facts. Few people understand the dominant ways we die and the challenges most people face because of those types of dying. Many of the social science monographs and health policy debates focus on cancer dying or dying in total institutions. Yet cancer is only one disease that kills, and many people live out their dying with several fatal illnesses. Though many people become dead in total institutions, the longer part of living-while-dying is outside of custodial care. Between a popular media fed with mere clinical insights about dying and a social science tradition of investigations that have taken almost their every lead from health care institutions, major myths and biases do grow. And basic insights from history, cultural sociology and epidemiology continue to be overlooked. This chapter seeks to redress these oversights by describing the key social trends, and the personal challenges thrown up by them, for today’s dying populations. Any basic sociology of dying needs to grapple with these trends because they are the meeting places between recent history and identity for today’s dying person. I describe seven major social trends that are key determinants of the cur- rent social experience of dying. These are: (1) the complicated nature of dying trajectories; (2) the seduction of medical rescue as a broad cultural value; (3) the myth of institutionalization; (4) the social manufacture of horror for con- temporary images of dying; (5) the rise of single-person households; (6) the paradoxical trend towards promoting dying for resource-poor countries while promoting sudden death in resource-wealthy ones; (7) and the current inability to address the problem of destination for a fundamental life-course rite of passage such as death and dying.