Digital Eternities

  • Fanny Georges
  • Virginie Julliard


In this chapter, the authors wish to study the transformation of online profiles created during a user’s lifetime into the profile of a deceased person. To this end, they first focus on the possibilities available to the bereaved to maintain the deceased’s profile and how they manage this. When these perpetuated profiles are taken in hand, they undergo changes (except in cases where the original pages are left intact so that those grieving can visit them without producing, modifying or removing signs). This phenomenon of transformation is what the authors have termed “profilopraxy,” whereby the deceased’s profile is changed so that it complies with the idea that the bereaved have of the person, and/or the affixment of death stigmas to make the profile recognizable as that of a dead person. As the most obvious way of affixing these stigmas involves announcing the death of the deceased, the authors analyze this announcement. They identify the enunciators who make the announcement, the places where it appears and the way it is formulated. On this basis, the authors show that the characteristics of social networking sites profoundly upset traditional hierarchies, since friends and family both intervene on the profile pages to affix death stigmas and shape them for posterity. As a result, the transformation of a living person’s profile into a dead person’s profile stems from a co-enunciation involving viewpoints that are not always similar. Tensions may even be expressed among the co-enunciators active on a profile. Moreover, some choose to use other spaces in which to produce a representation of the deceased, thus creating an image that better fits the one they wish to see handed down to posterity.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Paris 3 Sorbonne NouvelleParisFrance
  2. 2.University of Technology of CompiègneCompiègneFrance

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