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Transforming health and social care practice through education and research

  1. School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care
  2. Researching end of life care from a social science perspective

Researching end of life care from a social science perspective

Past, present and future contributions

Date: 29-30 November 2017

Time: 9am-5pm each day

Venue: Library Presentation Room, Library, The Open University, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA

Call for papers (pdf)

Organisers' profiles (pdf)

About the workshop – background

The care of dying persons has been a topic of social science explorations for decades, most notably gaining momentum in the 1960s, 1990s, and since 2010s. Concepts derived from in-depth social science research are now regularly considered core elements to understanding end of life care, both within the social sciences and for those practicing end of life care, such as Glaser and Strauss’ (1965) description of awareness, Seale’s (1998) notion of dying scripts, and Kellehear’s (2005) concept of public health palliative care to enable more community involvement.

Many social scientists working on end of life care research today are part of inter-disciplinary teams. Team publications do not often, however, reflect on, or contribute to, in-depth sociological theorisation, although they may be drawing on theories and methods commonly used in the social sciences. This seems in part due to the pressures of publishing in medically-oriented journals that often require shorter articles. Yet, the research published in social science journals is not being taken up by end of life care policy in the same way as the medically-oriented publications, or previously mentioned ‘seminal’ pieces.

The workshop is designed to reflect on the past sociological and anthropological engagements with end of life care practice in order to enable future opportunities for making these kinds of contributions to understanding care practices and informing policy. Importantly, we want participants to consider how to make their contributions informed by social theory and methods more visible as well as informing social science theories and methods.

Glaser, B. and Strauss, B. 1965. Awareness of Dying. Chicago: Aldine.
Kellehear, A. 2005. Compassionate Cities. Abingdon: Routledge.
Seale, C. 1998. Constructing Death: The Sociology of Dying and Bereavement. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Format of the workshop

The workshop will be held over two days and will focus primarily on discussion around the core theme. Workshop participants are expected to participate both days in the workshop. There will be up to 20 participants and all participants must have submitted an abstract and have it accepted in order to attend the workshop.

All workshop participants will act as both a presenter and discussant during the workshop. Participants will pre-circulate their papers to all other participants (via the organisers) prior to the workshop. During the workshop, each paper will have a slot during which the author will briefly present the paper, followed by the discussants posing remarks and questions. Most of the slot will be dedicated to group discussion about the paper. Formal presentations using Powerpoint will not be expected.

Pre-circulated papers do not need to be finished articles, but can take the form of a think piece or position paper of approximately 6-10 pages. We ask all participants to read all contributions beforehand to ensure in-depth discussion.

We are happy to announce that the workshop will include two keynote lectures given by Prof Jane Seymour (University of Sheffield) and Prof Allan Kellehear (Bradford University) - see Profiles (pdf). They will also actively engage in the group discussions.

There will also be a group dinner on the Wednesday evening that all participants are welcome to attend.

Location and accessibility

The workshop will be held in the Presentation room in OU library on the Milton Keynes Campus. The campus is 4 miles from Milton Keynes Central railway station, served by the West Coast Main Line between Birmingham and London (Euston). The campus is a short taxi ride away from the station and there are regular buses from the station to the campus. Details about getting to the campus

The library is wheelchair accessible and the workshop is being held on the ground floor. Entrance doors to the library and most doors within the library are button-activated. These are wheelchair-accessible. The room the workshop is in can support hearing loops (advance notice is required). There is tactile signage with use of Braille throughout the library building. A visual alarm system consisting of flashing red lights supplements the audio fire alarm system. If you think you may need assistance in the event of an emergency, please notify a member of the organising group or the Library staff when you arrive. Carers are welcome to attend at no extra costs but prior notice (ideally with abstract submission) is required.

There is wifi throughout the library, including access via _The Cloud. Students and staff from other Universities can access the Eduroam Wi-Fi network; please ask your home institution for more details.


We have allocated funding for bursaries to cover UK-based travel and other relevant costs. If you would like to apply for funding, please highlight this when submitting your abstract (applications for funding will not affect abstract selection). Please provide an estimate of the amount of funding you would require to attend, and state whether not receiving it would jeopardise your attendance at the event. Depending on the number of applications received, successful funding applicants may receive partial or full support towards their travel costs. Priority will be given to students and early-career researchers. The funding of bursaries has been provided by the foundation for the Sociology of health and Illness and the Association for the Study of Death and Society.


For further information email