Recreational grief as resonance - sociological notes on grief in popular culture

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In this paper, I discuss the societal interest in the phenomenon of grief. It seems literature, movies, music and so forth about grief is abundant and perhaps more so than previously. The main question is how to sociologically understand what could be called recreational grief. The thesis I develop in the following is concerned with discussing some of the societal preconditions that have led to our current interest in, and preoccupation with, grief in popular culture. I do this by initially discussing what grief is and how we are now seeing a diversification of the term. This is done by drawing on some examples from contemporary Danish culture in newspapers, books and television. Following this it will be discussed how emotions can be vicarious and why grief is and outlet that offers a counterpoint to ideals of contemporary society. Recreational grief is then discussed as forms of resonance-seeking activities through the concepts developed by Hartmut Rosa. I elaborate how this activity can be a response to an increasingly mute and hostile social environment that leaves less and less space for resonance and how these works might also be considered acts of resistance to an increasingly accelerating and alienating world.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)90-106
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Grief
  • critical theory
  • popular culture
  • resonance


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