Hierarchies of loss: a critique of disenfranchised grief

Patricia Robson, Tony Walter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Two aspects of the concept of disenfranchised grief are examined: its binary assumption that grief is either enfranchised or disenfranchised, and its emancipatory agenda that grief should not be socially regulated. Focussing on the mourner’s relationship to the deceased, we argue that social norms about the legitimacy of bereavement are not binary (yes-no), but are scalar or hierarchical, or even more complex still. We report on a tool for identifying hierarchies of loss, and describe the hierarchy identified by this tool in one British study. If norms about loss are not binary but hierarchical, how has disenfranchised grief – which claims to be a theory of norms - become an uncontested concept within bereavement research and clinical practice? We point to its rhetorical value in the postmodern politics of grief and its seductive emancipatory symbolism within the clinic; its value both for clinical practice and for empirical research into bereavement norms, however, may be limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-119
Number of pages23
JournalOmega: Journal of Death & Dying
Volume66
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Fingerprint

Grief
grief
Bereavement
Illegitimacy
Empirical Research
symbolism
Politics
Social Norms
empirical research
Values
legitimacy
politics
Research

Cite this

Hierarchies of loss: a critique of disenfranchised grief. / Robson, Patricia; Walter, Tony.

In: Omega: Journal of Death & Dying, Vol. 66, No. 2, 2012, p. 97-119.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{167318e6c9ab4fb6bde191e67a76d58b,
title = "Hierarchies of loss: a critique of disenfranchised grief",
abstract = "Two aspects of the concept of disenfranchised grief are examined: its binary assumption that grief is either enfranchised or disenfranchised, and its emancipatory agenda that grief should not be socially regulated. Focussing on the mourner’s relationship to the deceased, we argue that social norms about the legitimacy of bereavement are not binary (yes-no), but are scalar or hierarchical, or even more complex still. We report on a tool for identifying hierarchies of loss, and describe the hierarchy identified by this tool in one British study. If norms about loss are not binary but hierarchical, how has disenfranchised grief – which claims to be a theory of norms - become an uncontested concept within bereavement research and clinical practice? We point to its rhetorical value in the postmodern politics of grief and its seductive emancipatory symbolism within the clinic; its value both for clinical practice and for empirical research into bereavement norms, however, may be limited.",
author = "Patricia Robson and Tony Walter",
year = "2012",
doi = "10.2190/OM.66.2.a",
language = "English",
volume = "66",
pages = "97--119",
journal = "Omega: The Journal of Death and Dying",
issn = "0030-2228",
publisher = "Baywood Publishing Co. Inc.",
number = "2",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Hierarchies of loss: a critique of disenfranchised grief

AU - Robson, Patricia

AU - Walter, Tony

PY - 2012

Y1 - 2012

N2 - Two aspects of the concept of disenfranchised grief are examined: its binary assumption that grief is either enfranchised or disenfranchised, and its emancipatory agenda that grief should not be socially regulated. Focussing on the mourner’s relationship to the deceased, we argue that social norms about the legitimacy of bereavement are not binary (yes-no), but are scalar or hierarchical, or even more complex still. We report on a tool for identifying hierarchies of loss, and describe the hierarchy identified by this tool in one British study. If norms about loss are not binary but hierarchical, how has disenfranchised grief – which claims to be a theory of norms - become an uncontested concept within bereavement research and clinical practice? We point to its rhetorical value in the postmodern politics of grief and its seductive emancipatory symbolism within the clinic; its value both for clinical practice and for empirical research into bereavement norms, however, may be limited.

AB - Two aspects of the concept of disenfranchised grief are examined: its binary assumption that grief is either enfranchised or disenfranchised, and its emancipatory agenda that grief should not be socially regulated. Focussing on the mourner’s relationship to the deceased, we argue that social norms about the legitimacy of bereavement are not binary (yes-no), but are scalar or hierarchical, or even more complex still. We report on a tool for identifying hierarchies of loss, and describe the hierarchy identified by this tool in one British study. If norms about loss are not binary but hierarchical, how has disenfranchised grief – which claims to be a theory of norms - become an uncontested concept within bereavement research and clinical practice? We point to its rhetorical value in the postmodern politics of grief and its seductive emancipatory symbolism within the clinic; its value both for clinical practice and for empirical research into bereavement norms, however, may be limited.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84871373003&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://dx.doi.org/10.2190/OM.66.2.a

U2 - 10.2190/OM.66.2.a

DO - 10.2190/OM.66.2.a

M3 - Article

VL - 66

SP - 97

EP - 119

JO - Omega: The Journal of Death and Dying

JF - Omega: The Journal of Death and Dying

SN - 0030-2228

IS - 2

ER -