cultural viewpoints toward death and dying in Western society

Your Final Project will be a medium-length essay in which you address the cultural viewpoints toward death and dying in Western society and compare these to the perspectives toward death and dying in other parts the world. As the course content will point out, much about the Western response to death and dying amplifies the process of grief and bereavement, perhaps unnecessarily. In the West, death is something that is denied and, in many ways, is something that people seem ill-equipped to deal with once the event occurs or is imminent. Your job in this paper will be to put on your social scientist cap and offer “cultural solutions” to the way that death and dying is dealt with in Western society.

Assignment

Based on your own independent research in which you compare the cultural beliefs toward death and dying in Western societies to those in Eastern societies such as China, Vietnam, Japan, and so forth, write an essay that addresses the following points:

  1. Describe in detail the major differences between the Western viewpoint toward death and dying and those in these Eastern societies (you may focus on one country, such as China, or talk about Eastern societies more generally). Be sure to describe the rituals involved with the process of death and dying, the various technologies, or anything that helps explain these differences.
  2. Give one specific example of a famous case of death and dying in Western society that demonstrates some of the problems or dysfunctions of the Western viewpoint (examining cases in the media, for example, will be a great place to start!).
  3. Finally, conclude your final paper with a detailed commentary about what we can do to change the cultural beliefs toward death and dying in Western societies in a way that makes us less afraid of the dying process. Be very specific in your commentary.
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