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'Old age and death are especially subject to social taboo in contemporary society?' Explain why this is the case.

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Introduction

UNS101C1- The Individual and Society 'Old age and death are especially subject to social taboo in contemporary society?' Explain why this is the case It may be useful to first define the two main terms that will be studied. The first term is death; the Collins Dictionary defines death as the 'end of life'. Clinically this defined as there is a lack of heartbeat and breathing along with lack of central nervous system function which includes reflex activity and environmental responsiveness. If no brain activity is recorded after an initial measurement and a second measurement twenty-four hours later the individual in question is termed brain dead. Taboo refers to something which is forbidden or unmentionable, not by law but rather by custom. A strong taboo is one where something is unthinkable and its existence denied, a weak taboo is one where the subject is simply not spoken of. More insulated from death than in the past, most people are uncomfortable with talking about this subject which has become a taboo in western society, this is more so the case when speaking of the prospect of one's own death. This discomfort is shown even in the euphemisms people use such as 'sleep, pass away and rest', rather than the word death itself. . Our societies have banished 'death' from their vocabulary, we have promoted happiness and material possession, and any divergence from them is judged to be problematic or unnatural. "Death has become unnameable. Everything henceforth goes on as if neither I nor those dear to me are any longer mortal. Technically, we might admit that we will die...But really, at heart we feel we are non-mortals. ...read more.

Middle

Death has become a progressively more personal experience and is private rather than public. Reflecting the ideological diversity, availability of choice, and freedom of individual action evident in post modernity, various types of rituals, memorials and ashes disposition are being combined to create a multitude of funeral patterns. Becoming more personalised secular, pluralistic, historical and less formal, rituals more closely reflect the nature of individuals than that of formal social structures. "One significant feature of change is the secularisation of western societies in which death is no longer clothed with the certitude of faith." Turner9 Secular, or non-church rituals, may include photos of the deceased, or the display of personal items which were significant to the deceased. If the body viewed prior to cremation, the deceased may be informally dressed, or dressed in a manner congruent with his or her identity. Popular music may be used, ashes may be scattered in a place that represents the deceased's identity or ideological views, and mourners may directly participate in the rituals through song, poems, prayer, or scattering of the ashes. Religion is losing its historic domination over death, most notably to the medical and legal institutions; this is due to modernisation and secularisation. It seems contemporary western culture is now trying to find a new concept of death. Our culture is perhaps at a turning point. The Christian world view declines in its influence over popular culture. One may wonder what will replace it and what kind of lifestyle its replacement will lead to. As mentioned previously the process of dying has been moved from the home to the institutional setting. It has been taken away from every day life and tucked away out of site in hospitals and nursing homes. ...read more.

Conclusion

We are so afraid of suicide, euthanasia and death that if anyone mentions the word in his own reference, we view it as morbid thinking. Death is a taboo subject. The insurance industry realized a long time ago that nobody is going to buy "death insurance," therefore, to make it a more palatable subject; they termed it "life insurance." We try our best to avoid any thoughts, words or deeds related to death as if healthy living might be possible by taking the word "death" out of the dictionary. Therefore, when people are near death or death-like circumstances, they don't know what to do. They find themselves most unprepared because they never developed the skills to deal with death as a factual, inevitable, and unavoidable reality of life. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross once said that death is the final stage of growth. It should be noted that she uses the word "growth," rather than "failure" or "defeat." A normal, mature and non-accidental death is really the graduation event of this college of life. It should also be noted that although death is often seen as such a taboo subject in western society, it is also a matter of grave fascination. It is a topic often brought up in films, on television, books and newspapers and has assisted in selling all these products. Not everyone agrees that death is a taboo in western society. There are factors two support each side of this argument. It seems death is a taboo to a certain extent but in times of need friends and family join together to become a support system for one another. As a society it is still be an issue which needs to be addressed, more literature needs to be made available and the fear of death removed. Death is merely a natural ending to natural life. ...read more.

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