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 - Sept 2009
EventNinth International Conference Social Context of Death, Dying and Disposal (DDD9) - University of Durham, Durham, UK United Kingdom
Duration: 9 Sept 200912 Sept 2009


ConferenceNinth International Conference Social Context of Death, Dying and Disposal (DDD9)
Country/TerritoryUK 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