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Social death is the condition of people not accepted as fully human by wider society. Used by sociologists like Zygmunt Bauman and historians of the holocaust to describe the part played by governmental and social segregation in that process. Examples of social death are:
It could be said that the degeneration theory and theories similar to this theory are the most extreme examples of social death. The idea of degeneration has been popular in both right-wing and left-wing politics. Both left-wing and right-wing politics have used the word decadence to describe social groups whose social, moral, religious, æsthetic, or political commitments tend towards the inhibition of any or all forms of progress (the right) or towards the undermining of fundamental forms of order (the left). In either political optic, the forces of decadence may be internal or external; internally, the members of political opposition may represent those who have allowed essential ideals to lapse from their view of the world; externally, members of another society may be considered as cherishing ideals which introduce forces of collapse into the worlds wherein they are immigrants.
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In the context of health, social death—when the ailing person no longer has the consciousness to communicate with others—can occur. Social death occurs during the progression of Alzheimer's disease and to patients rendered unconscious through palliative sedation (a type of end-of-life care) to reduce pain before an imminent death.