Dear English-speaking visitors,

our web­page con­tains in­for­ma­tion and pic­tu­res from a so­cio­lo­gi­cal re­search pro­ject that co­vers, among other to­pics, the cur­rent im­pact of so­cial chan­ge on fu­ne­ral cul­tu­re wit­hin Cen­tral Eu­ro­pe. This short para­graph aims to give you an over­view about the fea­tu­res of the site.


First up, there is a brief ex­pla­na­tion on our re­search. We have vi­si­ted hos­pi­tals, hos­pi­ces, cli­ni­cal pa­tho­lo­gies, un­der­ta­kers, and many other pla­ces where peo­ple deal pro­fes­sio­nal­ly with death. Fur­ther­more, we have done field re­search on more than 1,050 ce­me­te­ries in Ger­many, Aus­tria, Swit­zer­land, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the south of Den­mark. This has led to an ar­chi­ve of more than 62,000 pho­to­graphs, most of them de­pic­ting rather un­usual gra­ve­sto­nes that pro­vide in­sight in­to so­cie­ty. Our main fin­ding is that dying, grie­ving and re­mem­be­ring to­day echoes in­di­vi­dua­li­za­tion pro­ces­ses and thus is no lon­ger con­duc­ted by means of ga­zing into a hea­ven­ly fu­tu­re that re­uni­tes peo­ple, but is rather built around in­di­vi­dual life­worlds and achie­ve­ments rea­ched in the past, but still valuable for the pre­sent.


You can ac­cess a short text from Ger­ma­ny's lea­ding news ma­ga­zine »Der Spie­gel« which gives you an in­tro­duc­tion to our work in English lan­gua­ge.


You can also find out more about us: We are Thor­sten Ben­kel and Matt­hias Meitz­ler, both from the University of Passau, both so­cio­lo­gists. Our web­pa­ge pro­vi­des an in­sight into our research and especially our books on the subject, con­tai­ning the most in­te­res­ting pic­tu­res. You will find some in­for­ma­tion on the two pre­ce­ding vo­lu­mes as well, each of them com­po­sed of both text and pho­to­graphs. There is also a list of book chap­ters and jour­nal ar­tic­les we wrote for dif­fe­rent pub­li­ca­tions, as well as an over­view of all spee­ches we held in con­nec­tion to our pro­ject.


This is fol­lo­wed by a list of ad­di­tio­nal re­search we have done, di­vi­ded again into books, chap­ters ar­tic­les, and spee­ches. Apart from exa­mi­ning how so­cie­ty deals with the pro­blem of mor­ta­li­ty from the per­spec­ti­ve of cul­tu­ral so­cio­lo­gy, we have wor­ked wit­hin in the field of law (on com­mu­ni­ca­tion wit­hin pe­nal law trials), in so-­cal­led
 »red light dis­tricts« (among others, on in­ter­ac­tion pat­terns in pro­sti­tu­tion set­ting and the drug sce­ne), and we have also loo­ked at self-­re­pre­sen­ta­tion on­line through Fa­ce­book.


This web­site also pre­sents you with a list of all the gra­ve­yards we have vi­si­ted for the cur­rent pro­ject, which is up­da­ted re­gu­lar­ly. The fi­nal sec­tion is de­vo­ted to the »Gra­ve­sto­ne of the Month« with a short ex­pla­na­tion on its spe­cia­lties – and in­clu­ding an archi­ve for ear­lier win­ners in that ca­te­go­ry.


Please do not he­si­ta­te to get in touch with us if you are in­ter­es­ted in our pro­ject and/­or want to con­nect with us! You can reach us via friedhofssoziologie [at] live.de.


By the way, we are also exa­mi­ning stra­te­gies and per­spec­ti­ves of peo­ple that keep their lo­ved ones‘ ashes in urns with them at home, or bury these ashes at other sites than the ce­me­tery. This is – as yet – il­le­gal in Germany, but still prac­ti­ced often. The project is called »Au­to­no­my of Bereavement«.

Yet another Project, called »Pluralization of the Sepulchral«, deals with the social change of mourning practices, especially in the contect of the Internet. More details on both projects can be found here.