“Ideal Breakdowns”: The Infrastructure of Funeral Market and the Production of Social Order
[“Ideal’nye polomki”: infrastruktura rynka ritual’nykh uslug i proizvodstvo sotsial’nogo poriadka]
Type of publication: Research Article
anthropology of infrastructure, repair and breakdown, funeral market, sociology of death, social infrastructure
Anthropologists note that there are different modes of interaction between the humans and the material world. This theory is based on the widely regulatory approach which assumes that material objects can have two states: “broken” and “working”. The working state of the infrastructure is almost always considered as normal, while the broken state is usually taken as requiring a repair. However, it has been observed that in some cases the failure of an object is not followed by its repair but begins to be seen as the norm and expected state. Drawing on my own field study of the funeral market, I attempt to conceptualize the categories of “failure/breakdown” and “repair”. I show how failure/breakdown and repair, no longer aimed at fixing the state of an object, may become the ritual practice and produce a social order, that is become goals in themselves. I further examine the possibility of applying the concepts of “failure/breakdown” and “repair” to the analysis of social infrastructure, taking the case of the funeral market.
Funding InformationThis research was supported by the following institutions and grants: Russian Science Foundation, https://doi.org/10.13039/501100006769 [grant no. 17-78-10208]
Mokhov, S.V. 2018. “Ideal’nye polomki”: infrastruktura rynka ritual’nykh uslug i proizvodstvo sotsial’nogo poriadka [“Ideal Breakdowns”: The Infrastructure of Funeral Market and the Production of Social Order]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 1: 146-160. https://doi.org/10.7868/S0869541518010116
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