   Symbolic power of family and death   Overview of literatures   Explore care-centric and family systems perspectives...
   Good death = accompaniment                                                                       (Seale, 1995)        ...
   ‘…much of the research effort has focused on carer’s experiences and    views’ (Kellehear, 2009, p.1)    =   Lack of ...
   Family/ personal relationships appear in…    1. Work which attempts to understand more general aspects of the    illne...
   Palliative, nursing and therapeutic literatures   Family conflated with care-giving and provision of care   Consider...
   Family as a ‘unit’ of care (holism in hospice/ palliative care)   Functionalism: family as a system    - roles, funct...
   Mechanical representation of family, implying that families are    prone to breaking down and need to be fixed   A st...
   Family systems and ‘coping’ frameworks represent a particular    way of thinking about families vis a vis death   Thi...
Family Practices: ‘often little   In what ways are people                                          fragments of daily lif...
   Carol Smart (2007)   The interconnected ways in    which people feel and imagine    themselves as related   Thinking...
‘I wanted to move out of the flatworld of most sociological accountsof relationships and families toincorporate the kinds ...
   Personal/ relational life is:    - a process    - dynamic    - performed    - imagined    - embodied    - material    ...
Addressing theoretical and empirical gaps in death studies, my research:   Stepped aside from more care-based analysis  ...
“I mean when they first, when they firsttell you that you have got cancer andthat you know for a fact that they can’tget r...
   Thanks for listening   I would like to acknowledge support generously provided by    my supervisor, Professor Jenny H...
Reconceptualising the family and care-centric models: What can a sociology of personal life bring to death studies? by Jul...
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Reconceptualising the family and care-centric models: What can a sociology of personal life bring to death studies? by Julie Ellis

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A presentation from the BSA Death, Dying and Bereavement Conference held on 19 November 2012.

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Reconceptualising the family and care-centric models: What can a sociology of personal life bring to death studies? by Julie Ellis

  1. 1.  Symbolic power of family and death Overview of literatures Explore care-centric and family systems perspectives Offer different conceptual perspective – family practices Discuss what this approach brings to death studies Please do not reproduce without permission of the author. Thanks
  2. 2.  Good death = accompaniment (Seale, 1995)  ‘Achieving the ‘good death’ depends substantially on the family’s competence in offering support, facilitating preparation for dying and affirming the patient’s dignity, as well as saying farewell’ (Kissane and Bloch, 2002, p.1)  Avoiding lonely death: moral issueSecurity, comfort, caring: normative about care and caringidea of family Please do not reproduce without permission of the author. Thanks
  3. 3.  ‘…much of the research effort has focused on carer’s experiences and views’ (Kellehear, 2009, p.1) = Lack of empirical understanding of the dying person’s perspective (Kellehear, 2009) Family members predominantly the subject of empirical interest in their capacity as carers and/or regarding their views about care provision Or, in other limited ways… such as providing proxy and retrospective accounts of relative’s dying experience (Grande and Ingleton, 2008) Please do not reproduce without permission of the author. Thanks
  4. 4.  Family/ personal relationships appear in… 1. Work which attempts to understand more general aspects of the illness/ dying process (e.g. Lawton, 2000) 2. Within studies about something else associated with death (e.g. what makes a ‘good death’ - Young and Cullen, 1996) 3. Seminal theoretical work related to dying (e.g. Glaser and Strauss, 1968; 1965) There is little in the sociological literature that focuses primarily and explicitly on everyday experiences of family life over the dying process Please do not reproduce without permission of the author. Thanks
  5. 5.  Palliative, nursing and therapeutic literatures Family conflated with care-giving and provision of care Considered in relation to their views of care services and relationships with health care professionals Few studies take experience of everyday family life as prime focus of investigation Please do not reproduce without permission of the author. Thanks
  6. 6.  Family as a ‘unit’ of care (holism in hospice/ palliative care) Functionalism: family as a system - roles, functionality, equilibrium, adjustment, developmental stage theories, ‘life stressors’ (Cook and Oltjenbrums, 1998), ‘adaptational tasks’ (Walsh and McGoldrick, 2004) Therefore, functional and dysfunctional families? ‘...very dysfunctional families show maladaptive patterns in dealing with inevitable losses, clinging together in fantasy and denial to blur reality and insisting on timelessness and perpetuation of never-broken bonds’ (Walsh and McGoldrick, 2004, p. 8) Intervention and therapeutic practice in mind Death is most likely to be experienced as a crisis at some level Please do not reproduce without permission of the author. Thanks
  7. 7.  Mechanical representation of family, implying that families are prone to breaking down and need to be fixed A static, rigid view of family life There are a series of core metaphors for family systems - the idea of the family as a machine and a container are both foundational in systems theory (Rosenblatt, 1994) Metaphors of family as an entity and as a system neglect to represent the unboundedness and fluidity of families and what goes on ‘in’ them (Rosenblatt, 1994) Please do not reproduce without permission of the author. Thanks
  8. 8.  Family systems and ‘coping’ frameworks represent a particular way of thinking about families vis a vis death This way of seeing contributes to a theoretical and empirical tendency to marginalise the everyday and mundane aspects of family life during life-threatening illness Aligns with a problems-based perspective premised on ‘death as crisis’ discourse Thinking about family in this way leaves little conceptual scope to understand dying experiences more holistically… to bring the mundane and everyday aspects of being a family facing death into our analyses Please do not reproduce without permission of the author. Thanks
  9. 9. Family Practices: ‘often little In what ways are people fragments of daily life’ (1996, p.189) doing being a family? David Morgan (1996) challenged the functional notion of family as a static unit Practices: everyday actions and interactions of family members who are actively creating family as a lived experience Please do not reproduce without permission of the author. Thanks
  10. 10.  Carol Smart (2007) The interconnected ways in which people feel and imagine themselves as related Thinking about/ imagining relationships = feelings of being embedded emotionally and materially in the lives of others Please do not reproduce without permission of the author. Thanks
  11. 11. ‘I wanted to move out of the flatworld of most sociological accountsof relationships and families toincorporate the kinds of emotionaland relational dimensions that aremeaningful in everyday life...Although, following David Morgan(1996), I acknowledge that familyis what families do, I also think weneed to explore those families andrelationships which exist in ourimaginings and memories, sincethese are just as real’(Smart, 2007, p.3-4). Please do not reproduce without permission of the author. Thanks
  12. 12.  Personal/ relational life is: - a process - dynamic - performed - imagined - embodied - material - felt - achieved - created - produced in the everyday Please do not reproduce without permission of the author. Thanks
  13. 13. Addressing theoretical and empirical gaps in death studies, my research: Stepped aside from more care-based analysis Approached ill/ dying people and their relatives as family first and foremost Didn’t assume illness would be all-defining - to go beyond ‘patients’ and ‘carers’ and matters of ‘coping’ Used sociology of family/ personal life as a conceptual lens through which to see the mundane and everyday in dying experiences... challenging the dominance of crisis-based approaches Produced a more holistic account of families’ dying experiences Please do not reproduce without permission of the author. Thanks
  14. 14. “I mean when they first, when they firsttell you that you have got cancer andthat you know for a fact that they can’tget rid of it all then I did at very first likewhen it came to the winter and I’mthinking oh I don’t know whether tobother (little laugh) buying a newwinter’s coat or not you know, I mean Idid I must admit I felt like that at firstbut then this year I have been out andbought one cos I thought oh its time Ihad a new coat, even though I don’t goout very often I want something when Igo out...” Please do not reproduce without permission of the author. Thanks
  15. 15.  Thanks for listening I would like to acknowledge support generously provided by my supervisor, Professor Jenny Hockey I would like to express thanks to the families that took part in my research Finally, thanks to the ESRC for funding my research Please do not reproduce without permission of the author. Thanks

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