Death Café, Bauman and striving for human connection in ‘liquid times’

Koksvik, G. H. and Richards, N. (2021) Death Café, Bauman and striving for human connection in ‘liquid times’. Mortality, (doi: 10.1080/13576275.2021.1918655) (Early Online Publication)

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The death-positive movement, the latest enactment of the death awareness movement, posits that contemporary societies are suffering under a ‘death taboo’ and that people should talk more about death. In this article, we analyse an international social franchise aligned with this movement – Death Café – whereby strangers gather in a café setting to talk informally about death and dying. Drawing on interviews conducted with 49 Death Café organisers in 34 countries, we apply the theories of Zygmunt Bauman to interpret this social initiative. Our analysis shows that the way in which the temporary café space is staged for atmosphere and attended by strangers who engage in ‘taboo’ conversation, all serves to engender feelings of intimacy and connection. Rather than viewing Death Cafés as primarily spaces for death awareness-raising, we interpret them as paradigmatic examples of what Bauman termed ‘peg’ communities, constructed to assuage the loneliness experienced by individuals in liquid modernity.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported by a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award [103319] to Professor David Clark.
Status:Early Online Publication
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Koksvik, Dr Gitte and Richards, Dr Naomi
Authors: Koksvik, G. H., and Richards, N.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social & Environmental Sustainability
Journal Name:Mortality
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
ISSN (Online):1469-9885
Published Online:28 April 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Authors
First Published:First published in Mortality 2021
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
170345Interventions at the end of life: social, historical and comparative analysis to promote global improvement.David ClarkWellcome Trust (WELLCOTR)103319/Z/13/ZIS - Interdisciplinary Studies