...that the social order prevails: death, ritual and the 'Roman' nurse
In this article, the importance of ritual as a collective response to death is discussed. A case example, taken from a larger ethnographic study, is used to explore the responses and reactions of a group of Italian nurses to death as it occurs within an intensive care unit in Rome, Italy. The material presented is used to analyse the significance of cultural, religious and social beliefs and quasi-beliefs can have in nursing practice. The issues highlighted in this examination of the place of ritual in death are located and discussed within their highly specific cultural context and suggest that, where emphasis remains on nurses as a collective rather than on the individual nurse, ritual acts to ensure that social and moral order prevails.