Trying to keep you: how grief, abjection, and ritual transform the social meanings of a human body

Courtney Nations, Stacey Menzel Baker, Eric Krszjzaniek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


The present research illuminates how the grief process and the abject force us to confront and reconcile the strangeness of a loved one’s lifeless human body. We find that the grief process, initially fueled by abjection, moves the social meanings of a human body in death through three stages: (1) divorcing the deceased’s identity from the body, (2) seeking tangible substitutes, and (3) attaining meaning outside the physical realm. These findings reveal how the process of grief, the abject, and the ritual practices surrounding it, transform the social meanings of a human body and other related symbolic consumption items. This work contributes to the literature by illuminating our understanding of the fluidity of identity that extends beyond a person’s natural life and by revealing how renegotiating the relationship with a physical body is important for the self-preservation of the living.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-422
Number of pages20
JournalConsumption Markets and Culture
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 3 2017


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing

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