Living life or denying death? Towards an understanding of the bucket list

Zascerinska, Santa, Sharpley, Richard Anthony john orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-2135-3206 and Wright, Daniel orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-9976-5799 (2022) Living life or denying death? Towards an understanding of the bucket list. Tourism Recreation Research . ISSN 0250-8281

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Since the movie The Bucket List was released in 2007, the practice of compiling a list of things that people wish to achieve during their lifetime – a bucket list – has become increasingly popular amongst not only those who have received a terminal diagnosis (as in the movie) but also the wider population. Moreover, predominant in such lists are tourism-related goals. Surprisingly, however, little academic attention has been paid to the role and significance of the bucket list. The purpose of this paper is to address this gap in the literature. Drawing on the outcomes of an exploratory survey framed within terror management theory, it considers the relationship between the bucket list and existential anxieties and, in particular, the extent to which a fear of death motivates the compilation of such a list. The research reveals that the compiling a bucket list has become a contemporary cultural practice which, though evidently a means of managing existential anxieties, is also an explicit manifestation of consumption directed towards the creation of identity and self esteem. The paper concludes by identifying future areas of research in the context of the bucket list.

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