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44471 - Senior Lecturer in Public Health Dr Yoga Nathan...

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Dr. Yoga Nathan Senior Lecturer in Public Health GEMS UL
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Describe the historical and social  changes that have occurred in the  meanings associated with death.  Explore the social issues surrounding  the so-called 'medicalisation of death  and dying' in modern health care  systems.  08/03/12 2
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Throughout the world, death and the  rituals that surround it are steeped in  taboos.  Death is celebrated, embraced and  feared.  Around death and the dead, cultures put  in place diverse restrictions and practices  associated with clothing, food and ritual.
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Nonetheless, death, dying, and grieving in  the traditional model were an important  part of everyday cultural practices.  And the rituals they spawned connected  dying and grieving persons to a broader  community and set of meanings.  In this way, the ordeal of dying was never  just personal, it was communal.
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These great ceremonies, along with their  deep religious and social meanings,  accompanied dying persons into their deaths.  They provided a sense of strength for the  broader community that was being threatened  by the loss of one of its members.  Additionally, these traditional rituals were a  healing balm to dying persons and their  intimates, offering strength and comfort to  both. 
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In the twentieth century, the social and  psychological landscape was transformed,  redefining modern cultural, social, and  personal experiences of death.  The result of this transformation is that  dying, once an integral and meaningful part  of social life, has become a source of terror  and thus largely vanquished from public  visibility.
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Four major social trends are  responsible:  (1) the abdication of community to a pervasive sense  of individualism;  (2) the replacement of a predominantly religious  worldview with one that is secular;  (3) the sweeping power that materialism holds on the  values, interests, and behaviours in modern society;  and  (4) the influential place of science and technology in  daily life. 
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