Managing liminality: professional care during organizational change

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to examine the way in which the theoretical construct of liminality contributes to understanding the process of dying of cancer from the perspective of patients, carers and professionals in a state-run organization undergoing privatization. Design/methodology/approach: Qualitative interviews were held with 13 patients and their carers and two focus groups with eight physiotherapists and occupational therapists. Data were analysed from the perspective of liminality for all three actors: patients, carers and health professionals. Findings: The theoretical construct of liminality was useful for understanding the lived experience of patients and their carers. However, a major finding of this study reveals that health professionals operated in a dual space as both managers of the ritual process and individuals undergoing a liminal journey as their organization underwent transformation or restructure. Clients and carers had little knowledge of these tensions. Research limitations/implications: The findings are limited by the fact that the interviews did not directly ask questions about the restructure of the organization. Social implications: It would appear that professionals provide quality care despite their own struggles in moving from one organizational form to another Originality/value: Few studies have explored the liminal rituals of dying at home that outline how professionals, as managers of the process, deal with their own liminal issues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)735-747
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Sociology and Social Policy
Issue number5-6
Early online date23 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2021


  • Cancer
  • Carer
  • Health professional
  • Health services
  • Liminality
  • Manager
  • Palliative care
  • Privatization


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