The routinization of hospice: charisma and bureaucratization

Soc Sci Med. 1992 Jun;34(12):1363-75. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(92)90145-g.


In 25 years the number of hospices in Britain has multiplied from under 15 in 1965 to over 430 in 1991. During this period, often working out with the mainstream health system, the hospices actively sought to transform terminal care. More recently a process of diversification and legitimation has meant that hospices have become increasingly subject to mainstream influence. Using Weber's concept of charisma we examine the development of the hospice movement during this period of expansion. We suggest there are a number of factors leading to the routinization of hospice care including the ways in which it was sponsored and developed at the local level, and pressures toward bureaucratization and professionalization. We make links with recent developments in the health services. Finally we consider whether it is possible for the hospice movement to sustain its founding ideals.

MeSH terms

  • Hospices / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Leadership*
  • Social Change*
  • Terminal Care
  • United Kingdom