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Die Todesanzeige Viel gelesen, jedoch wenig bekannt. Deskription eines wenig erschlossenen Forschungsmaterials

Karl-Wilhelm Grümer and Robert Helmrich
Historical Social Research / Historische Sozialforschung
Vol. 19, No. 1 (69) (1994), pp. 60-108
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20755829
Page Count: 49
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Die Todesanzeige Viel gelesen, jedoch wenig bekannt. Deskription eines wenig erschlossenen Forschungsmaterials
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Abstract

The purpose of this article is twofold: first to give a description of the manifest contents of an until now unknown information medium — the private announcements of death in daily news papers — which has been treated e.g. in the sociological literature of religion or culture in a possibly more essayistic way. And secondly to prove the relevance of this medium for sociological and historical questions e.g. the analysis of social and cultural change. The basis of our data are private announcements of death of the Cologne newspaper »Kölner Stadt Anzeiger«, beginning with the early decades of the 19th century till the year 1983. The method used is quantitative content analysis. The results of our analysis show clear changes of the contents of death announcements over a period of 160 years and lead to new insights into the patterns of attitudes and behavior associated with death and dying. For historical analyses they seemed to be the only meaningful data source and in the actual analyses of problems of sociology of religion and culture they are a helpful complement to survey research or other investigations using different interview techniques. But there are two restrictions to make: the contents of death announcements represent only one way of possible reactions of men confronted with death and dying in their families. Our analysis is not able to give a comprehensive description and analysis of attitudes and behavior going beyond our material. And secondly the vast lack of a structural variable like occupation in our data prevents from some socio-structural analyses which could be important investigating the social and cultural change in a historical perspective.

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