Bereavement and Motivation in Three Contrasting Cultures: Britain, Japan and China

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Bereavement is a common human experience across cultures; however, how people face and deal with their loss is also shaped by the socio-cultural background. Furthermore, bereaved people are often involved with various thoughts and actions in order to recover their ongoing lives as orderly and meaningful from loss of a loved one. Therefore, this thesis argues that motivation can be seen as a social tool that enables bereaved people to engage and negotiate with available norms and values in society to recover their meaning in their ongoing lives. In order to explore how motivation shape and are shaped by individual bereavement experiences, this thesis analyses a set of qualitative narratives from four different socio-cultural contexts, including 14 interviews from Britain, 16 interviews from Japan, 16 interviews and written narratives from China and 15 interviews from a so-called Shidu group of bereaved parents in China. By looking at how these bereaved people’s reported experiences before, at and after death of a loved one, I found that they were motivated by their sense of meaning in their ongoing lives. This sense of meaning included, the sense of autonomy and independence in Britain, the primary sense of interdependence mixed with individual values in Japan, the strong sense of reciprocity in being part of family in China, and the interdependent parenthood in the Shidu groups. Further, by developing a comparative framework, this thesis explores the socio-cultural differences of these bereaved people’s sense of meaning, bereavement experiences and everyday lives in relation to their motivation.
Date of Award22 Nov 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorChristine Valentine (Supervisor) & John Troyer (Supervisor)

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