New mourners, old mourners: online memorial culture as a chapter in the history of mourning

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How does online mourning differ from offline mourning? Throughout history, demographic, social and technological changes have altered mourners’ social relationships with both the living and the dead, and hence their experiences of grief. Online technologies comprise the latest chapter in this story; earlier chapters include family/community mourning (pre-industrial), private mourning (twentieth century), and public mourning (turn of the millennium). Pervasive social media in which users generate their own content have significantly shifted mourners’ social interactions and the norms that govern them, partly in new directions (such as enfranchising previously stigmatised griefs; more potential for conflict between mourners and others) but partly returning to something more like the relationships of the pre-industrial village (such as everyday awareness of mortality, greater use of religious imagery, more potential for conflict among mourners). Online, mourners can experience both greater freedom to be themselves and increased social pressure to conform to group norms as to who should be mourned and how.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-24
JournalNew Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia
Issue number1-2
Early online date6 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • heaven
  • angels
  • bereavement
  • grief
  • pervasive social media
  • sequestration

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