Beyond the Body
Death and Social Identity
Routledge – 1999 – 254 pages
Beyond the Body presents a new and sophisticated approach to death, dying and bereavement, and the sociology of the body. The authors challenge existing theories that put the body at the centre of identity. They go 'beyond the body' to highlight the persistence of self-identity even when the body itself has been disposed of or is missing.
Chapters draw together a wide range of empirical data, including cross-cultural case studies and fieldwork to examine both the management of the corpse and the construction of the 'soul' or 'spirit' by focusing on the work of:
'By raising questions about the analytical adequacy of current approaches, the authors develop innovative answers to our sociological understanding of the relationships between the social self, the sequestration of the dead body and the social presence of the dead … This study is an important contribution to social theory and demonstrates the value of adopting the sociology of the body as a perspective on death and sequestration in contemporary society. It is an imaginative contribution to the cluster of disciplines that are situated around the dying body including palliative care, the social psychology of bereavement and the sociology of death and dying.' - -Brian Turner, University of Cambridge