The social construction of the "dying role" and the hospice drama

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20 Scopus citations


The social construction of a "dying role" is emerging in response to terminal illness for which the "sick role" is no longer functional. When people are in the process of dying, in the absence of a "dying role," they take on the rights and responsibilities of the "sick role" to which they have been socialized. This is problematic for the individual who will not get well no matter how hard the effort. Hospice, a professional community with a central purpose of bringing the drama of dying to an appropriate close, marks the transition from a sick role to a dying role. This article looks at how the hospice community directs this transition and redefinition of self for the dying and significant others. Utilizing the symbolic interactionist and phenomenlogical perspective and the sick role theory of Talcott Parsons, this view of the drama is demonstrated through stories of hospice patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-512
Number of pages20
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000


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