Death in Today's Society

Topics: Death, Life, Afterlife Pages: 6 (2412 words) Published: March 11, 2012
Death Taboo
Death distances humans from life, is what death is thought of today. Death that is the strongest proof of humans being mortals is denied on its face value by the modern age people. People try to escape death and defeat its existence to live a fearless life that maximizes their pleasure for eternity. The phobia against death has made people avoid discussing death in public, and today it has become a taboo, like pornography was in the medieval ages. Sociologists and thinkers such as Gorer, Moller and Cline have studied the subject in great detail with solid research and a concerted effort they have recognized the changed behavior of people towards death. Instead of accepting its existence and getting on with the reality: that we have to leave this world one day, people deny death. This is reflected in their behavior towards death rituals and gatherings. Discussing death or the deceased is considered to be strange in today's society. People that speak of death or the dead people face prudery at the hands of their social environment. Thus, death has become a taboo, or something that should not be talked about. This situation was not always the case; in fact this is a modern day development. This transition in the reactions of people with respect to death, as noted, studied and explained by Gorer and his proponents is known as Taboo Thesis. In this paper a discussion will be made on the following thesis statement, “Death, today, is treated as a fearsome, alien phenomena and has become a taboo, with lesser and lesser people concerned about it. “ Contribution from Gorer

Geoffrey Gorer, born in 1905, was a renowned English Anthropologist. He spent his life in understanding the nature of humans and how do they get along with different variation in their lives. One of his greatest contributions to the field of Sociology is his work and research on the notion of death, the transition that it has been through the ages and its prevalent status in the current world order, categorically the United Kingdom. Very interestingly Gorer compares the treatment of death in the modern society with that of the notion of pornography in the Victorian Era. This creative and analytical thinking ability of Gorer made him stand out from other thinkers and anthropologists and thus his work has become exceedingly significant for scholars in order to expand their horizons of study on death or other related areas (Gorer 1955). Gorer compares the treatment of the notion of pornography in the Victorian era with that of the treatment of death in the contemporary world. In the Victorian era pornography was considered to be a highly intimate affair and discussion in public was considered to be an “eye-brow” raising issue that would lead to prudery in the society if projected. Gorer does not approve of such reactions as he believes that copulation and sex are issues known to people in general, so veiling them does not make a lot of sense as people tend to speak about issues that they are aware of, so the same must hold true for pornography as well. This argument is aesthetically forwarded by Gorer regarding death and the reaction of people to it in the contemporary world. Gorer opines that death is as big a truth in life as life itself, but today people try to evade from its existence in a manner that is similar to the Victorian era where people avoided sex and obscenity related discussions in public. Gorer believes that the society is distancing itself from the acceptance of a universal fact, and truth, and perhaps this is something that one would agree with as well (Gorer 1955). A contemporary example

Let’s consider the Somalian drought, termed as the “worst humanitarian crisis” by the UN. It is on the verge of engulfing the lives of more than 700,000 humans in the months to come. This drought has shown the real face of humans to themelves, but it's such a pity that we still don’t seem to care. No matter how steep the death toll is,...

References: David Wendell Moller. “Dying and Historical Context.” Confronting Death. New York, Oxford University Press. 1996.
Geoffrey Gorer. “Pornography of Death.” Death, Grief and Mourning.” Doubleday and Company. 1955.
Sally Cline. “Earlier Times, Other Cultures and Religions.” Lifting the Taboo. New York University Press. 1995.
Sally Cline. “Mortal Messages.” Lifting the Taboo. New York University Press. 1995.
Tony Walter, “Modern death: taboo or not taboo.” Sociology, 1991, 25, pp. 293-310. 
One India Living. “History of the “Red” La Tomatina Festival.” Web. 2011
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