Jana trained in social work in the Czech Republic and is currently completing a sociology doctorate on social death in the Centre for Death & Society, University of Bath.
She is in investigating the concept of social death which occurs when the social existence of a person or group ceases. With persons, it can occur before or after physical death.
Jana is co-editor (alongside Prof. Tony Walter) of a special issue of Contemporary Social Science , the journal of the Academy of Social Sciences, on the theme of social death which has been published September 2015.
Her open-access chapter answers the question "What is social death?"
Scholars in a wide range of disciplines have applied the concept to very diverse issues - from genocide to slavery to dementia to hospitalisation to bereavement. Social death relates to social exclusion, social capital, social networks, social roles and social identity, but its theorising is not united - scholars in one field are often unaware of its use in other fields. Jana's doctoral thesis explores original theoretical discussion of the concept and its uses.
Differences in growing old
Jana’s interest in death studies came from her family experiences with her two grandmothers.
“One of my grandmothers was a prime example of an active, lively and happy person, while by contrast my second grandmother was the exact opposite, exhibiting boredom with life, often complaining and saw herself as someone who was just awaiting death - she appeared socially dead thirty years prior to her physical death. At this younger stage of my life I wondered why my grandmothers were living such different lives. I also considered whether there was a way to help my sad and demotivated grandmother. ”
Following these observations, Jana's undergraduate thesis in the Czech Republic asked the question: How do elderly people perceive the end of life?
Jana’s thesis was graded as being of outstanding quality and was published in Social Work, a respected Czech academic journal.