Centre for Death & Society

Dr Lisa McCormick

Assistant Professor

Department of Sociology
Haverford College

Dr Lisa McCormick is a cultural sociologist who specialises in the sociology of music. During her residency at the Centre for Death & Society from 03 June  to 20 August 2013, she will be working on a new project about music at contemporary funeral services.

Between the commodification of the funeral industry and the secularisation of mainstream British society, the funeral ceremony has been transformed. Among the more telling signs of this change is the music selected for the service. According to the Daily Telegraph, Frank Sinatra’s My Way has been among the most popular choices for several years in the UK. Lisa's research aims to go beyond the Top Ten lists to investigate the role of music in the funeral service from a performance perspective (McCormick 2006, 2012).

Some of the issues Lisa has encountered through her fieldwork include:

  • Negotiations over “inappropriate” music for funerals
  • Music as a means to represent the individuality of the deceased
  • Music as a mechanism for emotion work at funerals (e.g., laments and dirges are not suitable for “celebrations of life”)
  • The predominance of pre-recorded music over congregational singing

In the future, I intend to expand this project to include a cross-cultural comparison with funeral music in the United States.


McCormick, Lisa. 2012. "Music Sociology in a New Key" in The Oxford Handbook of Cultural Sociology, edited by J.C. Alexander, R. N. Jacobs, and P. Smith. New York: Oxford University Press.

McCormick, Lisa. 2009. "Higher, Faster, Louder: Representations of the International Music Competition." Cultural Sociology 3(1):5-30.

Eyerman, Ron and Lisa McCormick (Eds.) 2006. Myth, Meaning and Performance: Toward a New Cultural Sociology of the Arts. Boulder and London: Paradigm Press.
Working Papers

McCormick, Lisa. (under review) “Tuning In or Turning Off: Emotion as a Metric of Value in International Music Competitions.”