Learning To Be Affected: Social suffering and total pain at life’s borders.

Gunaratnam, Yasmin. 2012. Learning To Be Affected: Social suffering and total pain at life’s borders. The Sociological Review, 60(S1), pp. 108-123. ISSN 0038-0261 [Article]

No full text available
[img] Text
Yasmin G proofs_ Sociological Review_2012.pdf
Permissions: Administrator Access Only

Download (236kB)

Abstract or Description

The practice of Live Sociology in situations of pain and suffering is the author’s focus. An outline of the challenges of understanding pain is followed by a discussion of Bourdieu’s ‘social suffering’ (1999) and the palliative care philosophy of ‘total pain’. Using examples from qualitative research on disadvantaged dying migrants in the UK, attention is given to the methods that are improvised by dying people and care practitioners in attempts to bridge intersubjective divides, where the causes and routes of pain can be ontologically and temporally indeterminate and/or withdrawn. The paper contends that these latter phenomena are the incitement for the inventive bridging and performative work of care and Live Sociological methods, both of which are concerned with opposing suffering. Drawing from the ontology of total pain, I highlight the importance of (i) an engagement with a range of materials out of which attempts at intersubjective bridging can be produced, and which exceed the social, the material, and the temporally linear; and (ii) an empirical sensibility that is hospitable to the inaccessible and non-relational.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Departments, Centres and Research Units:



June 2012Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

01 Oct 2012 12:51

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:45

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)