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Documents of life and death: Identities beyond the life course in coroners' suicide files

posted on 2023-06-08, 05:09 authored by Susanne Langer, Jonathon Scourfield, Ben FinchamBen Fincham
In keeping with recent critiques of literature on the body and the life course, the argument of this paper is that social identities can, to a certain extent, be constructed post-mortem and in the absence of a living body. The authors make this case with reference to a sociological autopsy study of a hundred suicide case files in a coroners office in a medium-sized British city. The research draws on ethnographic approaches to documents. There is discussion of some of the diverse data sources in the coroners files: medical reports, witness statements and suicide notes. The identity work revealed in these sources is as much about the living as the dead and is especially bound up in the process of avoiding blame.


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  • Published


Qulaiti/Economic and Social Research Council



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  • Sociology and Criminology Publications

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