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The changing politics of value in the funeral market

Abstract : The case of the funeral market offers privileged insights into the way market devices closely link politics and markets. The talk will first go back to the formation of the French funeral market at the beginning of the 19th century, in the context of constant interference by Church, State and the first Pompes Funèbres (a service profession whose function was to organize funerals) in the supply of funeral goods and services. The 'system of the classes' appears here as a central device in managing dissonance between conflicting values. A historical jump then leads us to the contemporary stage, with the significant reduction of the state's involvement in funeral provision, in favour of a liberalized and competitive market and the exponential development of death insurance. In both periods, the analysis will stress the role of market devices in the implementation of a politics of value through a 'calculation formula', which confers on the devices a capacity for addressing and combining social values - e.g. the desire for ostentatious funerals in the 19th century, or the 'intimization' of death - with political concerns - e.g. the dividing line between public and private, or the question of how solidarity, as an expression of a common humanity, might be achieved through the rituals surrounding burial.
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Contributor : Pascale Trompette <>
Submitted on : Thursday, January 2, 2014 - 9:36:01 AM
Last modification on : Friday, November 20, 2020 - 11:16:08 AM


  • HAL Id : halshs-00923216, version 1




Pascale Trompette. The changing politics of value in the funeral market. Seminar of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Open University, May 2013, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom. ⟨halshs-00923216⟩



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