Money and death: the consumption of bereavement services

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2009
EventNinth International Conference Social Context of Death, Dying and Disposal (DDD9) - University of Durham, Durham, UK United Kingdom
Duration: 9 Sep 200912 Sep 2009


ConferenceNinth International Conference Social Context of Death, Dying and Disposal (DDD9)
CountryUK United Kingdom
CityUniversity of Durham, Durham


Dive into the research topics of 'Money and death: the consumption of bereavement services'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this