Exploring social constructions of bereaved people’s identity in mainland China: a qualitative approach

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The context of mainland China remains under-researched in the bereavement literature. This article reports on a qualitative study on bereaved people’s experience in mainland China in light of their relational beings, uncovering varied applications of cultural emphases on harmony in their ongoing lives. By collecting and analysing qualitative data from a sample of 31 bereaved people, a largely traditional but changing picture of the bereavement experience is captured. The findings highlight the predominant values of harmony and familism in shaping the Chinese bereaved people’s identities in their ongoing lives. This article examines the idea of relational beings in the context of mainland China by shedding light on the reported experience of bereavement, and thus, furthers the ongoing debates on socio-cultural constructions of bereaved people’s identities. Accordingly, this paper provides researchers and practitioners with an in-depth narrative of bereaved people’s experience in this largely under-explored society, providing theoretical and empirical evidence to inform future studies, as well as bereavement support and policy-making in China.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)402-417
JournalMortality: Promoting the interdisciplinary study of death and dying
Issue number4
Early online date28 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Bereavement
  • Mainland China
  • Relational beings
  • Identity
  • Harmony
  • Family


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