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Entre les vivants et les morts, les pompes funèbres aux portes du marché

Abstract : In the 1970s, a funeral market emerged in France as the communal monopolies dating from a 1904 law were eroded. Studying this emerging marketplace sheds light on a merchandising process in this branch of the economy. This process has unfolded against the backdrop of a change in geography (the places where people die) and a change in the symbolic relation to death. It has entailed: designing funeral services in place of rituals; reworking the ‘mediations' that institute economic transactions between market segments of living clients, on the one hand, and, on the other, businesses of different sizes that provide various products and services; working out new arrangements for winning clients (products, services, package deals, etc.); and developing new business qualifications. Deeply anchored in the realm of symbols, the funeral business must handle two anthropological aspects of exchanges (the market and symbolic ones) that are structurally antagonistic but that its economic organisation cannot abolish. This inquiry focuses on how symbolic issues limit the activities of these businesses, in particular by forcing them to reconcile competition over prices (the very basis of the marketing dimension) and discretion about prices (itself required by the symbolic prohibition against reducing clients to mere customers.)
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Contributor : Pascale Trompette <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, February 17, 2009 - 3:13:24 PM
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Pascale Trompette, Olivier Boissin. Entre les vivants et les morts, les pompes funèbres aux portes du marché. Sociologie du Travail, Elsevier Masson, 2000, 42 (3), pp.483-504. ⟨halshs-00362179⟩

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