Encyclopedia of Death and the Human Experience

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Overview

Death and dying and death-related behavior involve the causes of death and the nature of the actions and emotions surrounding death among the living. Interest in the varied dimensions of death and dying has led to the development of death studies that move beyond medical research to include behavioral science disciplines and practitioner-oriented fields. As a result of this interdisciplinary interest, the literature in the field has proliferated.

This two-volume resource addresses the traditional death and dying–related topics but also presents a unique focus on the human experience to create a new dimension to the study of death and dying. With more than 300 entries, the Encyclopedia of Death and the Human Experience includes the complex cultural beliefs and traditions and the institutionalized social rituals that surround dying and death, as well as the array of emotional responses relating to bereavement, grieving, and mourning. The Encyclopedia is enriched through important multidisciplinary contributions and perspectives as it arranges, organizes, defines, and clarifies a comprehensive list of death-related perspectives, concepts, and theories.

Key Features

  • Imparts significant insight into the process of dying and the phenomenon of death
  • Includes contributors from Asia,; Africa; Australia; Canada; China; eastern, southern, and western Europe; Iceland; Scandinavia; South America; and the United States who offer important interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspectives
  • Provides a special focus on the cultural artifacts and social institutions and practices that constitute the human experience
  • Addresses death-related terms and concepts such as angel makers, equivocal death, end-of-life decision making, near-death experiences, cemeteries, ghost photography, halo nurses, caregiver stress, cyberfunerals, global religious beliefs and traditions, and death denial
  • Presents a selective use of figures, tables, and images

Key Themes

  • Arts, Media, and Popular Culture Perspectives
  • Causes of Death
  • Conceptualization of Death, Dying, and the Human Experience
  • Coping With Loss and Grief: The Human Experience
  • Cross-Cultural Perspectives
  • Cultural-Determined, Social-Oriented, and Violent Forms of Death
  • Developmental and Demographic Perspectives
  • Funerals and Death-Related Activities
  • Legal Matters
  • Process of Dying Symbolic Rituals, Ceremonies, and Celebrations of Life
  • Theories and Concepts
  • Unworldly Entities and Events

With an array of topics that include traditional subjects and important emerging ideas, the Encyclopedia of Death and the Human Experience is the ultimate resource for students, researchers, academics, and others interested in this intriguing area of study.

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Editorial Reviews

J. A. Adams-Volpe
"With a focus on the actions, emotions, beliefs, and traditions of the human experience, this interdisciplinary compendium of approximately 330 lengthy entries provides an excellent reference to the cycle of dying, the social-psychological emotions, and the cultural constructs surrounding the process....Entries provide effective, clear, multifaceted overviews that cover appropriate issues, practices, beliefs, customs, and trends. "-CHOICE
J.A. Adams-Volpe
"With a focus on the actions, emotions, beliefs, and traditions of the human experience, this interdisciplinary compendium of approximately 330 lengthy entries provides an excellent reference to the cycle of dying, the social-psychological emotions, and the cultural constructs surrounding the process....Entries provide effective, clear, multifaceted overviews that cover appropriate issues, practices, beliefs, customs, and trends. "-CHOICE
Library Journal
A broad range of expertise is represented in this multidisciplinary work that defines, organizes, and illuminates death-related concepts and theories. Editors Bryant (sociology, Virginia Tech Univ.) and Peck (sociology, Univ. of Alabama) successfully tackle the daunting task of assembling vast amounts of data and working closely with an international group of highly experienced scholars to bring valuable crosscultural perspectives. With over 300 authoritative entries, the work adequately covers the topic from every conceivable angle, including abortion and even zombies. The main goal is to provide researchers with insight into the varied aspects and mysteries of death and its human experience. A Readers Guide organizing entries into 16 topical categories is provided to assist readers in locating entries on related topics. An especially interesting essay on the controversy over violence and death in video games—found in the Arts, Media & Popular Culture category—offers a fascinating look at the first commercial video games from 1971 as compared with more modern ones. BOTTOM LINE While it may intimidate the lay reader at first glance, this is actually a simple-to-use but comprehensive resource. The only disappointment is that it contains few photos, illustrations, or charts to enhance the text further. Its success lies in the broad range of content and easy-to-access format, along with the convenience of having the information in one place. Best for larger public or academic libraries and health science collections.—Bobbie Wrinkle, McCracken Cty. P.L., Paducah, KY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781412951784
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications
  • Publication date: 7/15/2009
  • Pages: 1160
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 11.40 (h) x 3.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Clifton D. Bryant is Professor of Sociology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in Blacksburg, Virginia. He has been a faculty member there since 1972 and served as Department Chair from 1972 to 1982. Prior to coming to Virginia Tech, he held full-time faculty teaching appointments at Western Kentucky University (Department Head 1967–1972), Millsaps College (Department Head 1963–1967), and the University of Georgia (1960–1963). He was Visiting Professor at Mississippi State University (Summer 1985) and at the Pennsylvania State University (Summer 1958). His research appointments include Visiting Scientist at the U.S. Army Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences (Summer 1993), Visiting Research Scholar with the Mississippi Alcohol Safety Education Program Mississippi State University; Summer 1985), and Visiting Research Scholar with Training and Technology Project operated by the Resource Development Office of Oak Ridge Associated Universities, Inc. (Summer 1987). His foreign teaching appointments include Visiting Fulbright Professor, Department and Graduate Institute of Sociology, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China (1987–1988), and Visiting Professor in the Department of Sociology/Anthropology, Xavier University, The Ateneo, Cagayan de Oro City, Mindanao, Philippines (1984–1985). He was a participant in the U.S. Department of Education’s 1998 Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program in the People’s Republic of China (Summer 1998) and was also a participant in the U.S. Department of Education’s 1993 Fulbright- Hays Seminars Abroad Program in Hungary (Summer, 1993).Dr. Bryant served as President of the Southern Sociological Society (1978–1979) and as President of the Mid-South Sociological Association (1981–1982). He was the recipient of the Mid-South Sociological Association’s Distinguished Career Award in 1991 and the Distinguished Book Award in 2001. He is also the recipient of the Southern Sociological Society’s 2003 Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award. He has been listed in Who’s Who in America since 1984 and in Who’s Who in the World since 1991. He is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Phi Beta Delta, Alpha Kappa Delta, Pi Kappa Alpha, and Alpha Phi Omega.Dr. Bryant was founder and Chairman of the Editorial Board of Sociological Symposium (1968–1980). He was also the founder of Deviant Behavior and served as Editor-in-Chief of that journal from 1978 to 1991. He continues to serve as Chair of the Editorial Policy Board for the journal. He was editor of the Southern Sociologist (1970–1974). He has served as a member of the editorial board of Criminology (1978–1981), Associate Editor of Sociological Forum (1979–1980), Associate Editor of Sociological Spectrum (1981– 1985), member of the Board of Advisory Editors of Sociological Inquiry (1981–1985) and also Associate Editor of that journal (1997–2000). He was a member of the Board of Editors of Society and Animals (1997–1999) and was Associate Editor for a special issue of Marriage and Family Relations (Fall 1982).He is the author of Sexual Deviancy and Social Proscription; Khaki-Collar Crime: Deviant Behavior in Military Context; and Deviant Behavior: Occupational and Organizational Bases; editor of The Encyclopedia of Criminology and Deviant Behavior (four volumes); Deviant Behavior: Readings in the Sociology of Norm Violations; The Rural Work Force: Nonagricultural Occupations in America; Sexual Deviance in Sexual Context; The Social Dimensions of Work; and coeditor of Social Problems Today: Dilemmas and Dimensions; Deviance and the Family; and Introductory Sociology: Selected Readings for the College Scene. He has published articles in a number of professional journals, including Social Forces, Society, Sociological Inquiry, Sociology and Social Research, Rural Sociology, Sociological Forum, American Journal of Public Health, the Journal of Sex Research, Journal of Veterinary Medical Education, Journal of Leisure Sciences, Sociological Spectrum, The Rural Sociologist, Psychological Reports, Free Inquiry in Creative Sociology, World Leisure and Recreation, Hort Technology, Anthrozoos, Applied Behavioral Science Review, Man and Environmental Systems, The Southern Sociologist, and Deviant Behavior. He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Mississippi, did advanced graduate work at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), and received his Ph.D. degree from Louisiana State University.

Dennis L. Peck is Professor of Sociology at The University of Alabama.His reference book experience includes serving as an Associate Editor of the Encyclopedia of Criminology and Deviant Behavior (2001) and The Handbook of Death and Dying (2003). For the period 1987 to 1993 he was Editor of Sociological Inquiry the official journal of Alpha Kappa Delta, the International Sociology Honor Society. He is a past president of the Mid-South Sociological Society and he currently serves as president of the Alabama-Mississippi Sociological Association.

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