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Death is a Social Construct - Essay Example

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Death is a Social Construct

With death the bond between the spirit and the physical being is dissolved.
As per the Webster's dictionary the "social constructs" can be stated as a social mechanism, phenomenon, or category created and developed by society; a perception of an individual, group, or idea that is constructed via cultural and/or social practice.
Death is not a social construct in the literal sense as people do die whether the society wants them to or not. The rituals associated with death and the meaning that every group gives to this concept differs from society to society and culture to culture. This meaning is created and developed by the society and the religion that they practice.
For example: Hindu's believe in seven lives, thus when a person in their community dies they believe that he will be reborn. On the other hand, Muslims believe in life after death not rebirth. Both religions have very different ways of tending to the dead; the Hindu's burn the dead while the Muslims bury them. From this we can see the way society and social constructs have affected the concept of death but not death itself.
Death traditions take longer to change. The changes in the recent past have come from the grass roots. Phillipe Aries's classic The Hour of Our Death (1982) has categorized deaths evolution into five categories. Death used to be a part of every community, this was when communities were small and close knitted. The death rituals were personal as well as public but nowadays death has entered the invisible era. Here death is kept a secret and nobody talks about it, it is a taboo to mention it. In Phillipe's book the five eras of death mentioned are: tame death, death of self, remote and imminent death, death of the other and invisible death.

The society we live in finds it necessary to anthropomorphize the death and project it categories and relations. Every religion has some degree of anthropomorphizing of the concept of death; just the intensity with which it is instilled in every religion differs. We find a need to rationalize the concept, to face reality and this is done from two basic sources: first is the anthropomorphic character, which is that we continue to exist even though somebody has died. The second source is the social institutions that make people face reality through the socialization process. They make them think logically and legitimately. Social institutions that control the concept of death can not loose sight of the biological being. The biology of an individual limits the reality constructing activities. The survivors blur the difference between the dead and the living especially when they have recently lost a loved one. An example to explain this would be that of the European peasant cultures feeding the returning soul. This refers to the symbolic form of eating as the soul can not eat the same way a live person can. If this was to be the case than the soul would have to have some features which can enable this act, this is negated by experience. (Berta, 1960)

In the article by Derek Edwards, Malcolm Ashmore and Jonathan Potter, death and furniture are represented as arguments which go against the relativism to extremes. Death has two versions, the bad version, which is focused on the misery and the tragedy associated with death. This version of death is directly linked to ...Show more


People love life; there are very few people who think about eternal life. These people do not dread death when it comes; they accept it with open arms. For others, they dread the pain and the diseases that it brings with it. When death comes, our consciousness ceases before the heart stops and death is not complete if the heart is functioning…
Author : lawson26
Death is a Social Construct essay example
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