Postmortal Society: Towards a Sociology of Immortality, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Postmortal Society

Towards a Sociology of Immortality, 1st Edition

Edited by Michael Hviid Jacobsen


242 pages | 2 B/W Illus.

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Throughout history mankind has struggled to reconcile itself with the inescapability of its own mortality. This book explores the themes of immortality and survivalism in contemporary culture, shedding light on the varied and ingenious ways in which humans and human societies aspire to confront and deal with death, or even seek to outlive it, as it were.

Bringing together theoretical and empirical work from internationally acclaimed scholars across a range of disciplines, Postmortal Society offers studies of the strategies adopted and means available in modern society for trying to ‘cheat’ death or prolong life, the status of the dead in the modern Western world, the effects of beliefs that address the terror of death in other areas of life, the ‘immortalisation’ of celebrities, the veneration of the dead in virtual worlds, symbolic immortality through work, the implications of understanding ‘immortality’ in chemical-neuronal terms, and the apparent paradox of our greater reverence for the dead in increasingly secular, capitalist societies.

A fascinating collection of studies that explore humanity’s attempts to deal with its own mortality in the modern age, this book will appeal to sociologists, anthropologists, philosophers and scholars of cultural studies with interests in death and dying.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Towards a Postmortal Society - Paving the Pathway for a Sociology of Immortality

Michael Hviid Jacobsen

1. How the Dead Survive - Ancestors, Immortality, Memory

Tony Walter

2. The Future of Death and the Four Pathways to Immortality

Guy Brown

3. Individualised Immortality in Liquid-Modern Times - Teasing Out the Topic of Symbolic Immortality in the Sociology of Zygmunt Bauman

Michael Hviid Jacobsen

4. Terror Management Theory - Surviving the Awareness of Death One Way or Another

Uri Lifshin, Peter J. Helm and Jeff Greenberg

5. The Immortalisation of Celebrities

David Giles

6. The Contemporary Imaginary of Work - Symbolic Immortality within the Postmodern Corporate Discourse

Adriana Teodorescu

7. The Neural Identity - Strategies of Immortality in Contemporary Western Culture

Gianfranco Pecchinenda

8. Toward Post-Human - The Dream of Never-Ending Life

Nunzia Bonifati

9. Digital Immortality or Digital Death? - Contemplating Digital End of Life Planning

Carla J. Sofka, Allison Gibson and Danielle R. Silberman

10. The Virtual Concept of Death

William Sims Bainbridge

11. The Proliferation of Postselves in American Civic and Popular Cultures

Michael C. Kearl

About the Editor

Michael Hviid Jacobsen is Professor of Sociology at Aalborg University, Denmark. He is the editor of The Poetics of Crime and Beyond Bauman: Creative Excursions and Critical Engagements, and co-editor of The Sociology of Zygmunt Bauman; The Transformation of Modernity; Utopia: Social Theory and the Future; and Imaginative Methodologies: Creativity, Poetics and Rhetoric in Social Research (all available from Routledge).

About the Series

Studies in Death, Materiality and the Origin of Time

Studies in Death, Materiality and the Origin of Time

Eventually we all die - and we experience death head-on, when someone close to us dies. This series, Studies in Death, Materiality and the Origin of Time, identifies this fact as constitutive of the origin of human conceptions of time. Time permeates everything, but except for time itself all things are perishable - yet, it is only through the perishable world of things and bodies that we sense time. Bringing together scholarly work across a range of disciplines, the series explores the fact that human experiences and conceptions of time inherently hinge on the material world, and that time as a socially experienced phenomenon cannot be understood as separate from material form or expression. As such, it departs from a persistent current within Western thinking. Philosophy, biology and physics, among other disciplines, have studied time as an essential, ethereal and abstract concept. In the same way, death has often been conceived of in abstract and sometimes transcendental terms as occupying one extreme margin of human life. As an alternative, this series examines the ways in which bodily death and material decay are central points of reference in social life, which offer key insights into human perceptions of time.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General