Concept and Structure of Widowhood as a Social Phenomenon

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Head of the Department of Sociology of Social Work
Affiliation: Chernyshevsky Saratov National Research State University
Address: Russian Federation, Saratov
Occupation: Postgraduate Student of the Sociological Faculty
Affiliation: Chernyshevsky Saratov National Research State University
Address: Russian Federation, Saratov
Journal nameSotsiologicheskie issledovaniya
EditionIssue 10

The article analyzes widowhood as a social phenomenon. The concept of widowhood is shown to be a differentiated and many-sided matter. The main semantic complexes of widowhood are treated as a family anomaly, as a ritual, as a formal sign marking sociocultural boundaries, and as a subjective phenomenon characterized by a certain modality. Sociocultural analysis of widowhood helps to present it not only as a static construct, but as a set of causally interrelated states. The paper explains socio-cultural conditionality of experience locus associated with widowhood. The structural framework of widowhood is identified as follows: the nature of marital relations, situation of loss, i.e. interruption of life projects, as well as formation of individual life strategies (restoration of contacts and semantic connections). Analysis of in-depth interviews with widowed people allowed to identify substantive difficulties, vulnerabilities in situations of spouse's loss: social resonance, complex system of contacts, danger of breaking the ability to rationally comprehend reality, and existential dimension of the situation. The results of the study showed that the choice of further life strategies is largely determined by the situational context and personal characteristics of the widowed person. The possible life positions are variable: simulating, sonoristic, regulating, position of 'absent presence', and realistic.

Keywordswidowhood, meanings of widowhood, structure of widowhood, marital relations, variability of life positions
Publication date19.10.2021
Number of characters37582
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