Working with death: an oral history of funeral directing in late twentieth-century Scotland

Elaine W. McFarland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The late twentieth century was a period of profound change in death culture, reflecting falling death rates and the rationalisation of death and disposal. This article investigates the experiences of funeral undertakers, a profession who have been in the front line of these changes, but whose working lives have tended to remain hidden from public view. Based on a series of interviews with smaller, independent firms, the study considers the impact of internal change in the funeral business, including attempts at professionalisation and specialisation. It also examines the contribution of broader external forces, such as the medicalisation and secularisation of death. An underlying issue is the funeral director’s attempt at role renegotiation against the background of increased bureaucratisation and rising consumer demands.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-69
Number of pages12
JournalOral History
Volume36
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008

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Scotland
Funeral
Oral History
Professionalization
Secularization
Consumer Demand
Bureaucratization
Death Rate
Medicalization
Rationalization

Keywords

  • history
  • death culture
  • professionalisation
  • funeral directors

Cite this

McFarland, Elaine W. / Working with death: an oral history of funeral directing in late twentieth-century Scotland. In: Oral History. 2008 ; Vol. 36, No. 1. pp. 58-69.
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McFarland, EW 2008, 'Working with death: an oral history of funeral directing in late twentieth-century Scotland', Oral History, vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 58-69.

Working with death: an oral history of funeral directing in late twentieth-century Scotland. / McFarland, Elaine W.

In: Oral History, Vol. 36, No. 1, 01.01.2008, p. 58-69.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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