From Cathedral to Supermarket: mourning, silence and solidarity

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Where do mobile, individualistic members of modem Britain spontaneously congregate, eg, for public mourning, atid what does this tell us about the construction of solidarity and a sense of society? Where flowers were laid atid books of condoletice provided after the death of Princess Diana in 1997 provides a case study. A survey of 147 cities, towns and villages found that churches were important in cities and villages, but elsewhere, town halls, war memorials, shops and public buildings provided the magnets to bring people together. The role of war memorials and supermarkets is then examined in an analysis of the 1995 revival of the 11th November silence for the war dead. This indicates a) the payoff for companies in showing that they care, b) the impori;ance of practical logistics of space and time. In a plural and secular society, ritual ‘words against death’ become ‘silences against death.’ These congregations of contemporary nomads may not be full-blown Durkheimian rites, but they are a representation of existing society at the same time as representing popular hope for a better society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)494-511
Number of pages18
JournalSociological Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2001


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