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Fragile Lives

Death, dying and care

Fragile Lives by Beverley McNamara
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Death is inevitable, yet we often behave as if we will live forever. So when we meet someone who is dying, their fragility is a sharp and often unwelcome reminder of our own mortality. How does this affect the way in which individuals, health professionals and social institutions deal with death and dying?

Beverley McNamara looks at death from a sociological perspective. Arguing that despite popular belief death does not make us equal, she shows that dying is a chaotic and uncertain process. Yet despite the disorderly manner in which people die, McNamara demonstrates that social and cultural patterns can be found in the way we approach dying and the care of terminally ill people. She examines the medicalisation of care for the dying, attitudes of carers and the notion of the 'good death'. She also explores the euthanasia debate and our fear of cancer.

Drawing on wide-ranging qualitative research, Fragile Lives is a sensitive analysis of the social issues surrounding death.

'...a clear and accessible critical discussion of current issues such as euthanasia and the changing role of palliative care...'
David Field, Professor of Sociology of Palliative Care, Centre for Cancer and Palliative Care Studies, The Institute of Cancer Research, The Royal Marsden Hospital, London

'I have been waiting for a book like this. An experienced anthropologist addresses many of the issues which concern those of us who work with death and dying, bringing to our situation an authority founded in perceptive observation and scholarship.'
Emeritus Professor Ian Maddocks, Daw House Hospice, Adelaide

Allen & Unwin; June 2001
173 pages; ISBN 9781741150667
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Title: Fragile Lives
Author: Beverley McNamara