‘Good’ and ‘bad’ deaths: narratives and professional identities in interviews with hospice managers

Semino, Elena; Demjén, Zsófia and Koller, Veronika (2014). ‘Good’ and ‘bad’ deaths: narratives and professional identities in interviews with hospice managers. Discourse Studies, 16(5) pp. 667–685.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1461445614538566

Abstract

This article explores the formal and functional characteristics of narratives of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ deaths as they were told by 13 UK-based hospice managers in the course of semi-structured interviews. The interviewees’ responses include a variety of remarkably consistent ‘narratives of successful/frustrated intervention’, which exhibit distinctive formal characteristics in terms of the starting point and core of the action, the choice of personal pronouns and metaphors, and the ways in which positive and negative evaluation is expressed. In functional terms, the hospice managers’ narratives play an important role in representing and constructing their professional views, challenges and identities. Overall, the narratives argue for the role of hospices and professional hospice staff in facilitating a ‘good’ death, and, by presenting a relatively unified view, may potentially preclude alternative perspectives.

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