Sociology of Death Symposium

14 May 2014 14:00 - 15:15

A fascinating and eclectic mix of short sociological talks about death and dying presented by researchers in the Sociology Department at the University of York

More Info

Each talk is 10 minutes and is followed by a five-minute period for questions and discussion. The talks we have include:


Violent Death on the Internet: Inside the murder box, Rowland Atkinson

A discussion of how internet and video-gaming technologies create virtually experienced torture, execution and killing so that horror becomes a carnival for the affluent.  This talk discusses the wider social implications.


Consuming Criminal Corpses: Fascination with the dead criminal body, RuthPenfold-Mounce

Up until the late nineteenth century, the public execution of criminals drew large crowds, and fascination with the criminal corpse continues to fuel tourism and the pursuit of souvenirs.  This talk explores how fascination with criminal corpses is a gruesome part of contemporary consumer culture.


Refusing a “Living Death”:  Families of coma patients and advance decisions to refuse treatment,  Celia Kitzinger

Based on interviews with more than 50 family members of people who are kept alive in long term ‘comas’ (vegetative or minimally conscious states), this talk explores end-of-life choices from the perspective of people who have seen what can happen.  A large number of these people (ten times the national average) have written advance decisions to refuse life-prolonging treatment.


Doing being dead: On the performance of spirit contact in contemporary mediumship.   Robin Wooffitt

Based on analysis of video and audio recordings, and ethnographic observation, this talk examines some of the social practices through which spirits are ‘brought into being’ in stage demonstrations of mediumship. Specifically it examines how the language of mediumship facilitates audience engagement.


Death, Dying and the City in Noir: Literature and cinema,  Gareth Millington

Film noir and noir literature are famous for their existentialist treatment of murder and death. Beginning with its roots in ‘hard-boiled’ fiction, noir is responsible for helping to fashion the fatalistic view that living is absurd and death is without meaning. Yet noir is uncharacteristically sentimental, perhaps even nostalgic, when in comes to the city. This talk will argue that a recurrent theme in noir is mourning for the lost city, either the centripetal, centred city of the pre-war era or the pre-gentrification city evoked in contemporary noir.


Research Centre for the Social Sciences, University of York


Booking Needed.

Online: Please use the ‘Book’ button to the right

Telephone: 01904 323041


Price: FREE

Book Now