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The Funeral Insurance Contract: A New Market Formula for Solidarity ?

Abstract : 'Coping with instability' was certainly one of the main ground for the development of the " friendly societies " (England), the " sociétés de charité " (France) or the private insurance during the nineteenth century in Europe, as numerous forms of social and economic organization addressing the poor to collect and save money for burials (Trompette & Griffith, 2011). One and half a century later, private death insurance has emerged relatively unexpectedly in France, with the formation of an 'ad-hoc market' built on the alliance between insurance companies and funeral companies. How are we to assess this modern system of funeral contract, particularly compared with the historical forms which prevailed previously? What do it says about the social way fellow citizens pay tribute to their dead? This paper examines the funeral insurance contract as a socio-technical market device (Callon, Millo, & Muniesa, 2007; MacKenzie & Hardie, 2006; McFall, 2008), considering the various operations it contains: a valuation formula, incorporating a economic calculation (saving plan, capitalization contract) and a social valuation (the tribute to the dead); an attachment formula, with the formalization of an economic and juridical connection between heterogeneous actors - the ex-post dead, its family, an insurance company, a funeral parlour (Callon & Law, 2003; Vatin, 2009). Prolonging the hypothesis according to which markets are always linked to moralisations (even if more or less explicit)(Fourcade & Kieran, 2007), it shows to what extent these different type of death insurance carry a moral mandate and build up a solidarity in the way modern societies deal with their dead.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00923221
Contributor : Pascale Trompette <>
Submitted on : Thursday, January 2, 2014 - 10:01:20 AM
Last modification on : Friday, November 20, 2020 - 11:16:08 AM

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Pascale Trompette. The Funeral Insurance Contract: A New Market Formula for Solidarity ?. MPIfG Conference " Coping with Instability in Market Societies, Dec 2011, Paris, France. ⟨halshs-00923221⟩

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