Debates on the end-of-life controversy are complex because they seem to highjack national and cultural traditions. Where previous books have focused on ideological grounds, The Politics of Intimacy explores dying as the site where policies are negotiated and implemented. Intimacy comprises the emotional experience of the end of life and how we acknowledge it—or not—through institutions. This process shows that end-of-life controversy relies on the conflict between the individual and these institutions, a relationship that is the cornerstone of Western liberal democracies.
Through interviews with mourners, stakeholders, and medical professionals, examination of media debates in France and the Czech Republic, Durnová shows that liberal institutions, in their attempts to accommodate the emotional experience at the end of life, ultimately fail. She describes this deadlock as the “politics of intimacy,” revealing that political institutions deploy power through collective acknowledgment of individual emotions but fail to maintain this recognition because of this same experience.