Journal of Near-Death Studies

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 131–134

Near-death utopias: Now or later?

  • Kathy Charmaz


By viewing near-death experiences (NDEs) in the context of the quest for an ideal society, Kellehear offered hope for positive social change and insight into the social, rather than purely personal, meanings of the NDE. However, his approach raised issues of the interpretive research process generally. As with any research, near-death studies are influenced by investigators' questions, interests, and assumptions. Despite the reasoning behind Kellehear's position, he grounded his analysis not in the data, but rather in his typology of ideal societies. I suggest we look first for indications of ideal social order in near-death narratives and only later compare them with types of utopias.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Atkinson, P. (1990).The ethnographic imagination: Textual constructions of reality. London, England: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Charmaz, K. (1991).Good days, bad days: The self in chronic illness and time. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Clifford, J., and Marcus, G.E. (1986).Writing culture: The poetics and politics of ethnography. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  4. Durkheim, E. (1913).The elementary forms of the religious life. Glencoe, IL: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  5. Lundahl, C.R. (1981–82). The perceived otherworld in Mormon near-death experiences: A social and physical description.Omega, 12, 319–327.Google Scholar
  6. Marcus, G.E., and Fischer, M.M.J. (1986).Anthropology as cultural critique. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  7. Schneider, J.W. (1991). Troubles with textual authority in sociology.Symbolic Interaction, 37, 295–319.Google Scholar
  8. Zaleski, C. (1987).Otherworld journeys: Accounts of near-death experience in medieval and modern times. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathy Charmaz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologySonoma State UniversityRohnert Park

Personalised recommendations