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Living and dying with cancer: sensitive methods for sensitive research

Living and dying with cancer: sensitive methods for sensitive research
Living and dying with cancer: sensitive methods for sensitive research
Dying is a period of life, fraught with issues which are complex and which can often occasion a depth of feeling impossible to capture and analyse. Not surprisingly then there is a paucity of empirical work within the sociology of dying. My PhD research, which subsequently formed the nucleus of my book Living and Dying with Cancer (2004), explored the reality of what it is to live whilst dying of cancer in the present day UK. The ethnographic study (carried out in the South East of England and Northern Ireland) took almost seven years to complete, and aimed to capture first hand reports of the coherent dying experience from multiple viewpoints. The investigation examined the experience of living with cancer from the moment of detection of symptoms and continued through to the events which ultimately peaked in death. This paper aims to examine something of the philosophical underpinnings and practical realities which supported the methods employed in that research. Specifically it will focus on the issues and difficulties encountered whilst working on a longitudinal basis in such a sensitive field. Problems such as finding a sample of individuals who were dying but were also able to contribute actively to the research at what was surely the most vulnerable time of their lives. Other issues under discussion will include ethical questions raised during the work as well as the more practical concerns which arose both when working in the field and during writing up, for example, the question of analysing what finally transpired to be an almost overwhelming amount of data.
Armstrong-Coster, Angela
a6aaba5a-6696-4182-8584-17a2d314c3c7
Armstrong-Coster, Angela
a6aaba5a-6696-4182-8584-17a2d314c3c7

Armstrong-Coster, Angela (2005) Living and dying with cancer: sensitive methods for sensitive research. The Social Context of Death, Dying and Disposal. 15 - 18 Sep 2005.

Record type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Abstract

Dying is a period of life, fraught with issues which are complex and which can often occasion a depth of feeling impossible to capture and analyse. Not surprisingly then there is a paucity of empirical work within the sociology of dying. My PhD research, which subsequently formed the nucleus of my book Living and Dying with Cancer (2004), explored the reality of what it is to live whilst dying of cancer in the present day UK. The ethnographic study (carried out in the South East of England and Northern Ireland) took almost seven years to complete, and aimed to capture first hand reports of the coherent dying experience from multiple viewpoints. The investigation examined the experience of living with cancer from the moment of detection of symptoms and continued through to the events which ultimately peaked in death. This paper aims to examine something of the philosophical underpinnings and practical realities which supported the methods employed in that research. Specifically it will focus on the issues and difficulties encountered whilst working on a longitudinal basis in such a sensitive field. Problems such as finding a sample of individuals who were dying but were also able to contribute actively to the research at what was surely the most vulnerable time of their lives. Other issues under discussion will include ethical questions raised during the work as well as the more practical concerns which arose both when working in the field and during writing up, for example, the question of analysing what finally transpired to be an almost overwhelming amount of data.

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More information

Published date: 2005
Venue - Dates: The Social Context of Death, Dying and Disposal, 2005-09-15 - 2005-09-18

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 34534
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/34534
PURE UUID: d2bca108-c44b-4398-9438-9a3ea76bf236

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Date deposited: 16 May 2006
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 15:50

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Contributors

Author: Angela Armstrong-Coster

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