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Consolation, individuation and consumption: Towards a theory of cyclicality in English funerary practice

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Publication details

JournalCultural and Social History: the Journal of the Social History Society
DateAccepted/In press - 8 Aug 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 22 Jan 2018
DatePublished (current) - 1 Apr 2018
Issue number1
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)61-78
Early online date22/01/18
Original languageEnglish


The paper contends that the scale of mortality is a more significant determinant of change in funerary practice than chronological periodisation.
A concentration on scale suggests that change in funerary practice runs in cycles, reflecting the search by the bereaved for consolation that is undermined by the threat to individuation posed by industrial-level scales of operation and professionalization. Within this framework, the bereaved make active choices – depending on their unequal resources – amongst a range of products and services to secure consolation. England is posited as a case study to evidence cycles of change, and this paper uses historical data to consider change in use from churchyard to cemetery, from cemetery to crematorium, and the contemporary evolution of natural or ‘green’ burial.

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© 2018, The Social History Society. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.

    Research areas

  • Burial, Cremation, Funerary practice, Green burial

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