Digital Death and Spectacular Death

Johanna Sumiala, Michael Hviid Jacobsen

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1 Citationer (Scopus)
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Throughout human history, individuals, communities and societies have always had to confront and tackle the problem of death. Consequently, death remains a topic of social scientific relevance, highlighting the need for its study and for theorising around it. This article analyses the development of the social scientific study of death and dying, taking inspiration from Philippe Ariès’s historical stages to discuss the recent developments in the field, namely the study of digital death. The article begins with a discussion of the visibility of death in modern society in the context of spectacular death. The analysis emphasises its four dimensions: mediatisation, commercialisation, re-ritualisation and the revolution in end-of-life care. The article moves on to discuss the emergence of digital death as the current stage and reflects on its similarities to spectacular death and its transformation of public imaginaries around death in contemporary society. The article concludes with a reflection on future developments in the field, specifically the emergence and study of artificial intelligence (AI) in digitalised death culture.

TidsskriftSocial Sciences
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)1-11
Antal sider11
StatusUdgivet - 6 feb. 2024


  • Death, spectacular death, digital media, Philippe Ariès, historical stages, ideal types


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