Death Café, Bauman and striving for human connection in ‘liquid times’
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The death-positive movement, the latest enactment of the death awareness movement, posits that contemporary societies are suffering under a ‘death taboo’ and that people should talk more about death. In this article, we analyse an international social franchise aligned with this movement – Death Café – whereby strangers gather in a café setting to talk informally about death and dying. Drawing on interviews conducted with 49 Death Café organisers in 34 countries, we apply the theories of Zygmunt Bauman to interpret this social initiative. Our analysis shows that the way in which the temporary café space is staged for atmosphere and attended by strangers who engage in ‘taboo’ conversation, all serves to engender feelings of intimacy and connection. Rather than viewing Death Cafés as primarily spaces for death awareness-raising, we interpret them as paradigmatic examples of what Bauman termed ‘peg’ communities, constructed to assuage the loneliness experienced by individuals in liquid modernity.