ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Overcoming a Methodological Dilemma

Understanding the Ineffable

A researcher thinks through what they can do to better understand and give meaning to the ineffable experiences of their respondents.


As humans, we all know death is inevitable. The realisation that we will die one day is imprinted deep within us. However, the commotion in everyday life while dealing with the social world tends to make us ignore this. Terror management theory suggests that it is the amalgamation of our cultural beliefs and state of mind, called escapism, which provides us with a sense of security by diverting our awareness from the fact that death is inevitable. Even so, death is conspicuous as an everyday pheno­menon, but we don’t give it much importance unless it is someone close to us who has died or if the death has some special significance. However, the COVID-19 pandemic in the age of mass media and social media has had a notorious impact on our perception of death. And this is where, as a researcher, my story begins.

After my PhD coursework, as I delved into my research proposal, the pandemic broke out and concomitantly the lockdown. I was working on the perpetuity of narratives and beliefs as my central theme. It was evident that there was a crisis in the institution of death because the country’s mortality quickly crossed the death industry’s structural capacity to handle it. Listening to the news from various platforms and their descriptions of the crisis made it more apparent that our narratives were at an impasse. People were struggling to find words to express what was happening, especially the death workers and death ritual specialists who dealt with death daily. The pandemic brought on a situation where we lacked the vocabulary to describe the psychological and sociological nuances of the crisis within the institution of death.

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Updated On : 14th May, 2022
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