An exploration of bereaved people’s everyday interactions with music in contemporary British society

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This paper explores the role of music in shaping people’s experiences of bereavement in the context of contemporary British society. Adopting a sociological lens, this study examines the duality of social structures and individual agency by questioning how bereaved individuals can draw on music as a socially accessible discourse. Further, it investigates how individuals’ relationship with music can shape and be shaped by their experiences of facing and dealing with loss. To gain an in-depth view of bereaved people’s dynamic and often emotive engagement with music, a qualitative approach is employed, seeking the vivid accounts of five bereaved people, from both professional musician and non- musician backgrounds. These bereaved people reconstructed their personal journey with music as part of their meaning-making process. Based on an inductive thematic analysis approach, three main themes are identified, ‘music and the self’, ‘music and continuing bonds’ and ‘music to shape ongoing life’. These findings have reflected music as an important tool that is deeply embedded in bereaved people’s taken-for-granted resources to negotiate with loss and to recover their sense of meaning and ‘self’. The diverse and even competing use of music, as powerfully evidenced in this study, can further a larger debate on individualisation and the reduction of shared social norms in contemporary British society. By highlighting the continued influence of music in everyday life, this study can further inform practitioners and researchers’ understandings of bereavement as an ongoing experience.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2021
EventMusic, Monuments, and Memory Symposium - Centre for Death and Life Studies - Durham University, Durham, UK United Kingdom
Duration: 13 Nov 202113 Nov 2021


ConferenceMusic, Monuments, and Memory Symposium
Country/TerritoryUK United Kingdom
Internet address


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