End of life and dimensions of civil society: The Church of Sweden in a new geography of death
2007 (English)In: Mortality, ISSN 1357-6275, E-ISSN 1469-9885, Vol. 12, no 3, 261-280 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Over the past 10-15 years the geography of death has changed in Sweden. Dying and end-of-life care has to a great extent been moved out of hospitals back into the local community, and renewed attention is given to dying and spiritual care issues. Yet, at the same time, a new ideological investment in civil society has taken place, which ascribes caring and networking qualities and resources that may not always be encountered in practice. This article discusses the implications of this situation, by focusing on the role of the Church of Sweden, as an actor in civil society, and on its support for parishioners in their end-of-life phase. Questions discussed are: what role do local church parishes play in the care of dying parishioners, and what is the meaning of parish belonging and networks in this context? Results from a study of all parishes in two Swedish, medium-sized, communities indicate that support for dying parishioners is surprisingly uncommon, while most parishes offer support for the bereaved. The article argues that this may be an indication of failing resources, on the part of the parishes, to meet the needs of these contrasting situations. While a relational logic motivates support for the dying parishioner, support for the bereaved seems to follow a service logic, one with which the representatives of the parishes are more at ease. Networks and personal relationships seemed to be the heart of the matter and the concept of social capital was used to capture this phenomenon. In a more general sense, however, the results illustrate the partly contradictory roles and strategies that the Church has adopted in order to face different interpretations of civil society and ongoing societal change in Sweden.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 12, no 3, 261-280 p.
Civil society, End of life, Religion, Social capital, Spiritual care
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-48955DOI: 10.1080/13576270701430635OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-48955DiVA: diva2:269851