What is it about?

Materials and consumption practices have been used throughout history to deal with the mourning and memorialization process (Kuijt et al., 2020). Materials that generate meanings and memories for death and the deceased are seen as constitutive of ideologies (Fogelin, 2007) and therapeutic tools (Hinton, 1963). In many cultures, reactions to death are mainly expressed through goods and services. In contemporary societies, funerals are big affairs, can go on for days, include many people, and generate vast consumption of death-related goods and services. Funeral goods and services help consumers memorialize the deceased and mediate relationships between the bereaved. Despite its importance, to date, literature has paid limited attention to the consumption aspects of death. From this perspective, it can be stated that there is a lack of understanding of how consumption around death affects and is affected by other death-related constructs. Although it has been widely discussed in the literature, no scale has yet been developed to measure the consumption aspect of death. This study aims to develop a domain-specific death-related status consumption (DRSC) scale to bridge this gap in the field.

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Why is it important?

Even in environments where religious and traditional practices are stronger, there are significant differences between the past and the present in terms of the way funerals are organized (Cook & Walter, 2005). At present, death-related goods and services have reached the size that can form an industry. Nowadays, it is even possible to customize funeral ceremonies according to the wishes of the consumers by choosing different products and services that will enrich or simplify the rituals. Cengiz and Rook (2016) argue that while funerals became a new venue for conspicuous consumption, the shape of traditional funeral rites has changed and started becoming simpler with the help of increasing cremation rates in the U.S. recent years. Similarly, as recently noted by Lowe et al. (2019), there is a marked shift away from even traditional forms of memorialization in the funeral industry. Despite this shift and enormous transformation in the death industry, an instrument that could measure the consumption of death has not yet been developed by either death researchers or consumer researchers. Therefore, the main contribution of this study was to address this gap in the literature.

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This page is a summary of: Death-Related Status Consumption: Scale Development and Validation, OMEGA - Journal of Death and Dying, May 2021, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/00302228211016223.
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