UBC Theses and Dissertations
Deathwork: ethnographic materials on the social organization of the Coroner's Office Persky, Stan
The primary intention of Deathwork is to present some heretofore uncollected materials about practices in our society relating to death, particularly as they center around the institution known as the coroner's office. In the course of my research, I've also gathered materials from doctors concerning their activities involving deathwork procedures and some conversation about the dead that could eventually be used for the sociological study of bereavement in our society. The bulk of this presentation, however, displays materials collected from a coroner's office in a large urban environment. They take the form of interviews and recorded sequences of interactions that are part of the daily business of doing the work of the coroner's office. In addition to presenting these materials I offer some brief descriptive comments on their character - together, they comprise the preliminaries for an ethnography or ethnological analysis of an institution in our society that has received little sociological attention. It is not the intention of this presentation to do the work of an ethnography, however, this report provides the necessary pre-conditions for doing such an ethnography. In addition, I felt compelled to draw up a theoretical program for what such an ethnography might look like in the form of a brief review of the literature supportive of the perspective that I think ought to be adopted. I believe that the arguments presented with respect to ethnography suggest that the methodological questions about ethnographic analysis are enough up in the air at the present time that a defense of the partiality of this presentation isn't required.
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