The social organisation of death : medical discourse and social practices in Belfast
This is a study of the manner in which death is organised in the city of Belfast. It is concerned with the analysis of the principles, practices, and forms of knowledge which serve to organise the dead from the moment at which physical death is pronounced until the moment of disposal. The thesis is presented in two parts. Part One is entitled Public Bodies. It focuses, in the main, upon the discourse through which individual deaths in particular, and mortality patterns in general, are explained, described, and analysed by state agents and agencies. Chapter One examines the principles according to which causes of death are discovered and allocated. Chapter Two switches attention to modes of death, and examines the use of categories of natural and unnatural death. Chapter Three focuses upon the discourse of modern pathology as it operates within the confines of the city mortuary. And, Chapter Four, concentrates upon the General Register Office, and the principles according to which it collects, collates, and produces data on Belfast mortality patterns. The second part of the thesis is entitled Private Death. Here, the point of focus shifts to the examination of the activities and forms of thought which operate outside of, and beyond the official state agencies. Chapter Five presents an investigation of the organisational principles through which death is ordered within the cemetery, the city, and the hospital. Chapter Six, investigates the ways in which sentiments of the bereaved are structured in relation to the dead. Whilst Chapter Seven focuses upon the organisation of body, soul, and social being during the phase of disposal. The final chapter examines the interpenetration of Belfast politics and political ideologies with the social practices which surround the disposal of the dead. The methodological basis of the study is outlined in Appendix A.