1st Edition

Death in a Consumer Culture

Edited By Susan Dobscha Copyright 2016
    352 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    352 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Death has never been more visible to consumers. From life insurance to burial plots to estate planning, we are constantly reminded of consumer choices to be made with our mortality in mind. Religious beliefs in the afterlife (or their absence) impact everyday consumption activities.

    Death in a Consumer Culture presents the broadest array of research on the topic of death and consumer behaviour across disciplinary boundaries. Organised into five sections covering: The Death Industry; Death Rituals; Death and Consumption; Death and the Body; and Alternate Endings, the book explores topics from celebrity death tourism, pet and online memorialization; family history research, to alternatives to traditional corpse disposal methods and patient-assisted suicide. Work from scholars in history, religious studies, sociology, psychology, anthropology, and cultural studies sits alongside research in marketing and consumer culture. From eastern and western perspectives, spanning social groups and demographic categories, all explore the ubiquity of death as a physical, emotional, cultural, social, and cosmological inevitability.

    Offering a richly unique anthology on this challenging topic, this book will be of interest to researchers working at the intersections of consumer culture, marketing and mortality.

    Preface (Susan Dobscha)  Part I: The Death Industry 1. Proclaiming Modernity in the Monument Trade: Barre Granite, Vermont Marble and national advertising, 1910-1932 (Bruce S. Elliott) 2. The Marketing of a Siege: Leningrad vs. Sarajevo- memorializing death and despair (Brent McKenzie) 3. Marketing Death through Erotic Art (Christina Welch) 4. Authenticity, Informality and Privacy in Contemporary New Zealand Post-Mortem Practices (Cyril Schafer and Ruth McManus) 5. Custody of the Corpse: Controlling alkaline hydrolysis in US death care markets (Philip R. Olson) Part II: Death Rituals and Consumption 6. Death, Ritual and Consumption in Thailand: Insights from The Pee Ta Kohn Hungry Ghost Festival (Rungpaka Amy Hackley and Chris Hackley) 7. Ritual, Mythology, and Consumption After a Celebrity Death (Scott K. Radford and Peter H. Bloch) 8. Voluntary Simplicity in the Final Rite of Passage: Death (Hakan Cengiz and Dennis Rook) Part III: Consumption of Death 9. Cheating Death via Social Self Immortalization: The potential of consumption-laden online memorialization to extend and link selves beyond (physical) death (Terrance G. Gabel) 10. Extending the Mourning, Funeral, and Memorialization Consumption Practices to the Human-Pet Relationship (Phylis M. Mansfield) 11. Great Granny Lives On: pursuing immortality through family history Research (Leighann C. Neilson and Delphin A. Muise) 12. Physician Assisted Suicide At The Crossroads Of Vulnerability And Social Taboo: Is death becoming A consumption good? (Francoise Passerard and Xavier Menaud) 13. Dispatches from the Dying: Pathographies as a lens on consumption in extremis (Darach Turley and Stephanie O’Donohoe) Part IV: Death and the Body 14. The Role of Body Disposition in Making Sense of Life and Death (Courtney Nations Baker, Stacey Menzel Baker, and James W. Gentry) 15. Consumer Acceptance of Radical Alternatives to Human Disposal: An examination of the Belgian marketplace (Louise Canning, Isabelle Szmigin, Cathy Vaessen) 16. Theatre of the Abject: Body worlds and the transformation of the cadaver (Kent Drummond) Part V: Alternate Endings 17. The Mortal Coil and the Political Economy of Death: A critical engagement with Baudrillard (Ai-Ling Lai) 18. The Spectre of Posthumanism in Technology Consumption: The death of the human? (M. Buchanan-Oliver and A.G.B. Cruz) 19. Poetically Considering Death and Its Consumption (Terrance G. Gabel) 20. Death: Where do we go from here? (Jeffrey Podoshen)


    Susan Dobscha is Professor of Marketing at Bentley University in Waltham, USA. She explores gender issues in marketing, particularly in the context of the Filene's Basement Bridal Event; consumer resistance to marketing tactics; and the role of consumption in a woman's transition into first-time motherhood. She has also studied sustainability issues related to consumer culture. She has written articles for Harvard Business Review, Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, Journal of Macromarketing, Consumption, Markets, and Culture, Marketing Education Review, Advances in Consumer Research, Developments in Marketing Science, and Advertising and Society Review, and has presented her work at numerous conferences. She recently co-chaired the 9th ACR Conference on Gender, Marketing, and Consumer Behavior.


    'This book haunts us with more and more about how people live with death. In modern life there are these endless questions that are explored here. Issues of anticipation, of bereavement, or handling of the dead body, of living with its irrevocable fact of mortality. As we ponder what happens before, during, and after death; this book helps us to do that in a rich, highly detailed way.' - Sidney J. Levy, Professor, University of Arizona, USA

    'Death isn’t what it used to be. The immortality sought by transhumanists may not be new, but their technologies are. Latter day Cartesians may newly attempt to separate mind and body, but issues regarding the former vessel, grief, and memorialization of the spirit remain. Internet immortality, environmentalism, and modern medicine also alter the concerns and possibilities. This important volume pits everlasting questions against new techniques for treating and understanding death.' - Russell Belk, Professor, York University, Canada

    'Death comes brilliantly to life in this volume of insightful research. From dark tourism, online memorials, and coffin erotica to eco-funerals, celebrity deaths, corpse carnivalism, and more, Dobscha’s "Death in a Consumer Culture" provides a startling and valuable new view about how our culture of markets, media, and money interrelates with the reality and the long shadow of death.' - Robert Kozinets, Professor, York University, Canada

    'This lively book provides stimulating new perspectives on death, and should generate productive thinking about how death and dying are central parts of the marketplace. The international cast of contributors offers both practical and theoretical insights into a spirited range of death-related topics that creatively reframes death as a consumer and market practice.' - Jonathan Schroeder, William A. Kern Professor, Rochester Institute of Technology, New York, USA

    "Overall, I would conclude that this book will not only be of relevance to those with a contextual curiosity about death research but also to researchers interested in a range of theoretical perspectives including consumer vulnerability, family consumption and transformative services research, to name but a few." – Kathy Hamilton, Consumption Markets & Culture Journal, 2016

    "The varying methodological approaches, across an array of contexts, are very useful examples for the death scholar as they can be transferred to further studies. Overall, Dobscha’s objective to bring together a collection of works which address the rich subject of death in a consumer culture is successfully achieved. Dobscha fulfils her task in presenting death as a necessary topic of inquiry within the field of marketing and consumer research." - Zivarna Murphy, Hull York Medical School, UK