Informalisation of Rituals in Dying and Mourning: Changes in the We–I Balance

  • Cas Wouters


The previous chapter centred on changes in steering codes governing the longings of young people for sex and love, largely captured theoretically as changes in the lust balance. These changes are directly related to significant conditions for the beginning of human life. This chapter will focus on the other end of life. At this phase, changes in steering codes governing the moments of dying and mourning will be indicated and largely captured as changes in the we–I balance, a concept coined by Norbert Elias (2010b). And at both of these life phases, it appears that steering codes in the West have changed in the direction of informalisation, most significantly during the second half of the 1960s and particularly in the 1970s (Wouters 1990b). In the Fin de Siècle and the Roaring Twenties, many ‘violations’ of traditional practices also triggered vehement debates, for example, around the introduction of cremating dead bodies, but the changes in dying and mourning during the ‘Expressive Revolution’ were so overwhelming for many that the ‘standard practice of the 1950s’ became their main standard of comparison.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cas Wouters
    • 1
  1. 1.Utrecht UniversityAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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