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Money and death: the consumption of bereavement services


Reference:

Woodthorpe, K., 2009. Money and death: the consumption of bereavement services. In: Ninth International Conference Social Context of Death, Dying and Disposal (DDD9), 2009-09-09 - 2009-09-12, University of Durham, Durham.

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Abstract

This paper considers the relationship between consumption, identity and death through an exploration of the UK cemetery industry and suggests that cemetery users and the staff often negotiate multifarious – and possibly conflicting – identities. Drawing on an ethnography of a large cemetery in London, the paper examines the ways in which the purchasing of services provided by the cemetery are negotiated by the user/client and the staff/provider, arguing that there are many uncertainties for both as they navigate their consumer/broker identities. Caught up in the requirement for the cemetery to be financially sustainable, staff are under pressure to attract ‘business’, which can sometimes conflict with a personal desire to empathise with the bereaved. At the same time, bereaved people purchasing S88 DDD9 Abstracts Downloaded By: [University of Bath Library] At: 09:17 5 March 2010 services in the cemetery can be both vulnerable and savvy consumers – sometimes simultaneously – needing/demanding kindness and understanding and/or value for money and a high quality product. The paper argues that tension surrounding the purchasing of services in the cemetery and uncertain identities as bereaved consumers/business-related brokers reflects a widespread ambiguity surrounding the relationship between money and bereavement and is indicative of a societal uneasiness about a close relationship between commercialism and death overall.

Details

Item Type Conference or Workshop Items (Paper)
CreatorsWoodthorpe, K.
DepartmentsFaculty of Humanities & Social Sciences > Social & Policy Sciences
Research CentresCentre for Death and Society
RefereedYes
StatusPublished
ID Code18058

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