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The art of enduring contradictory goals: challenges in the institutional co-construction of a 'good death'.

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2016
Author Soom Ammann Eva, Salis Gross Corina, Rauber Gabriela,
Project 'Doing death' and 'doing diversity' in nursing homes
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Journal of Intercultural Studies
Volume (Issue) 37(2)
Page(s) 118 - 132
Title of proceedings Journal of Intercultural Studies
DOI 10.1080/07256868.2016.1141755


This paper focuses on the normative notion of ‘good death’, its practical relevance as a frame of reference for ‘death work’ procedures in institutional elder care in Switzerland and the ways in which it may be challenged within migrant ‘dying trajectories’. In contemporary palliative care, the concept of ‘good death’ focuses on the ideal of an autonomous dying person, cared for under a specialized biomedical authority. Transferred to the nursing home context, characterized by long-term basic care for the very old under conditions of scarce resources, the notion of ‘good death’ is broken down into ready-to-use, pragmatic elements of daily routines. At the same time, nursing homes are increasingly confronted with socially and culturally diversified populations. Based on ethnographic findings, we will give insight into current practices of institutional ‘death work’ and collisions arising between contradicting notions of a ‘good death’ by referring to decision-making, life-prolonging measures, notions on food/feeding and the administration of sedative painkillers.