The PhD Abstracts below were published in MSo Volumes 6, 7 & 8.

Who joins a UK right to die society and why?

A study of members of Friends at the End (FATE)
Dr Marion Judd, Queen Mary University of London

The thesis presents quantitative and qualitative thematic analyses of a postal survey and interview study of members of Friends at the End (FATE), a Glasgow-based right to die society. This is one of the first UK studies aimed toward filling a gap in knowledge about who joins a UK right to die society, and their reasons for doing so. The thesis attributes responsibility for the right to die movement’s continuing existence to contemporary socio-cultural norms of individualism and self-determination in promoting desire for autonomy and choice surrounding dying and death. It shows how and why a distinct group of predominantly older and higher social class individuals, 22% of whom have health and social care professional backgrounds, have decided to join FATE.  The right to die movement is shown to be a new social movement concerned with health, ageing and death activism that challenges contemporary biomedical models of managing dying and death. The thesis shows how ageing, social class, religiosity, socio-medical constructs of dying, risk management and altruism toward others all contribute toward the ongoing existence of pro-right to die attitudes and beliefs. It also shows how personal fears about the manner of future dying, both physical and existential are frequently informed by personal experiences, identified as critical factors in decisions made to join the movement. FATE exists in a culture in which assessing risk has become very pervasive, and joining FATE is, for many members, a risk-avoidance strategy, given their concerns that future dying and death may be unpleasant. Conditional desire for hastened death is also shown to be informed by desire to avoid placing burden on others, a form of reciprocal altruism in which hastened death benefits both the dying person and family members as well as society as a whole.

Dr Marion Judd

Queen Mary University of London

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Abstracts are published here as provided by the author and in the order in which we receive them.