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Consumption Markets & Culture








When a gifting relationship is disrupted by death, why might a living consumer continue to invest in it? Consumer spending on deceased loved ones does not end with the funeral. Given the embodying power of a physical gravesite, this article examines the practice of gift giving to the deceased in the context of American cemeteries. We employ a longitudinal approach, in which 180 cemetery gravesites were photographed. The photographic data are coupled with a netnography of grief and bereavement communities. Findings support a restorative perspective of gift exchange. Bereaved consumers utilize restorative giving as a mechanism to cope with loss and maintain relationships with deceased loved ones. We outline five categories of gifts given to the deceased and present a framework of restorative giving practices. Implications are discussed in terms of identity development, symbolic communication, and reciprocity in gift giving, as deceased consumers continue to be recipients of tangible goods.


Author Posting. © Taylor & Francis 2017. This article is posted here by permission of Taylor & Francis for personal use, not for redistribution. The article was published in Consumption Markets & Culture, 2017,

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.