Researching the End of Life: Reflections on Qualitative Sociology of Death, Dying, and Bereavement
In this article, we dedicate ourselves to the peculiarities of qualitative sociology of death, dying, and bereavement. While the sociology of death, dying, and bereavement has been increasingly opened to qualitative methods throughout its history, there is a lack of a reflection on the subsequent research process. We illustrate this lack and show to what extent the sociology of death, dying, and bereavement is a conglomerate of multiple approaches and issues. Following from this, we present six basic assumptions that play a role in a qualitatively oriented process of death research: epistemological limits, the (extra)ordinariness of the research object, problems of field access, (implicit) norms and piety, the particular relevance of research ethics, as well as the resulting emphasis on the subjectivity and emotionality of the researchers. These basic assumptions can also be found in other research fields, but in their specific constellation, they characterize qualitative research at the end of life to a remarkable degree. Taking into account these lowest common denominators, sociological research can enable a detailed reflection on methods and thus a more differentiated and more insightful research process in the context of dying, death, and bereavement.
Copyright (c) 2021 Ekkehard Coenen, Matthias Meitzler
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.