Title

Ecological Death Reform and Death System Change

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

8-19-2019

Publication Title

OMEGA- Journal of Death and Dying

First page number:

1

Last page number:

25

Abstract

This article elaborates on Robert Kastenbaum’s death system analysis by explaining social change efforts among Ecological Death Advocates (EDAs), a diverse group of designers, scientists, spiritualists, and entrepreneurs who seek to develop more environmentally sensitive and humanistic alternatives to contemporary death management practices. Drawing from online and documentary data, we highlight EDAs claims about problems with conventional death management and the solutions they propose. Specifically, EDAs challenge hyperrationalized and professionalized death management practices by advocating for more ecologically benign approaches that link past traditions with new technological innovations to better align death practices with personal and community needs. We theorize EDA reform efforts as an aspect of “death-system” politics to carve out cultural, economic, and political space for alternative end-of-life decisions that better reflect broad ecological sensibilities and changing attitudes toward death.

Keywords

Death; Dying; End-of-life; Death systems; Social change

Disciplines

Sociology

Language

English

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