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Title: Memorialising memory : a material culture approach to older people's responses to the death of a partner
Author: Richardson, Therese Ann
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2011
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This empirical study uses qualitative methods to investigate experiences of bereavement after the death of a partner. The original research aim was to study the implications of death among older people, including those from ethnic minority groups, a neglected area of study. The research included participant observation at lunch clubs in centres attended by older White British and African Caribbean people, and semi-structured interviews recorded in 2007-2008 with 20 men and women over 60. Most participants lived in the city, and a small number lived in a rural area. African Caribbean interviewees were in the minority. The study took a material culture approach to bereavement; this generated data revealing what practical things people did, and what was important for them when their partner died. It found that in identifying 'ordinary' funeral practices people show their identifications with particular groups. Choices made by surviving spouses when dealing with the residual materiality of their partner's life revealed their agency in restoring a life for themselves despite living with loss. From an analysis of the data, themes were developed in relation to the literature. Death was studied through the lens of the intersubjective and embodied relationship of the marital couple, particularly in home life. Research questions asked what part material culture plays in the experience of bereavement; how memorialisation might enable the continued agency of the deceased; and whether and how 'ancestors' are created in Britain. The thesis follows the transition l1f a living person from their dying and death through to their funeral and disposal, and l1n to their formal and informal memorialisation. The research confirms that the deceased can continue to have a 'presence' and agency, which is not necessarily problematic, in the lives of bereaved people. In particular, it reveals the importance of everyday habits and practices in memorialisation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available