Surviving death-anxieties in liquid modern times: Examining Zygmunt Bauman's cultural theory of death and dying

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Abstract

Despite his prominence as a leading contemporary social theorist, Zygmunt Bauman's long-term writing on the cultural theory of death and dying has largely been overlooked in the sociological literature of death and dying, particularly in the United States. Bauman uniquely theorizes how we survive death-anxieties today: Contemporary, liquid modern culture has engaged us in ceaseless pursuit of the unattainable consumer sensation of bodily fitness as a way to suppress and thus survive our death-anxieties. Bauman also argues that the prevalence of this cultural formula to survive death-anxieties has simultaneously increased, more than ever before in social history, the volume of individual responsibility for restlessly coping with existential anxieties in the societies of consumers. While unique and insightful, his theoretical argument has a limitation; largely succeeding Freud's classic view of mortality, Bauman's contemporary theory may lead us to neglect potentially important social, cultural, and historical variations in how mortality has been understood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-238
Number of pages18
JournalOmega (United States)
Volume65
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2012
Externally publishedYes

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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