Yrke: begravningsentreprenör : om utanförskap, döda kroppar, riter och professionalisering

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


This dissertation has a dual purpose. Firstly to describe what funeral directors do and how they experience their work. Secondly to see if, and in that case how, funeral directors influence rites around the deceased, both official as well as more private rites. The study is based on text analysis, interviews with 32 funeral directors and field studies on four funeral parlours. Only funeral directors working at businesses that are members of Sveriges Begravningsbyråers Förbund (an association of funeral directors in Sweden), SBF are included. Different theories about stigma, body culture, rites and religiosity, and professionalisation are used to explain the experiences and thoughts of the funeral directors.

The study shows that the funeral directors live with a double representation of their occupation. On the one side, as an occupation related to dead bodies, the occupation is "dirty" and strange, and can thus be a stigma in their social life. On the other side, the funeral directors are seen as experts on deceased persons, funerals and wills. To move away from the negative representation, the funeral directors focus their work on the bereaved families and their needs. The occupation should therefore be seen as dealing with life more than with death. The actual work conducted by the funeral directors is presented through field observations from the parlours, for example meetings with the bereaved family, dressings of the deceased, viewings, funeral services and interments of the urn.

The study examines the professionalisation of the funeral directors in four different ways: by looking at the organisation, at the base of knowledge, at the acknowledgement and at the work on the specific task areas. The acknowledgement from society and the bereaved families has made it possible for the funeral directors to enter new task areas and the base of knowledge shows a change from a sales occupation to a service occupation. By leading rites surrounding the deceased, such as the viewing and the interment of the urn, the funeral directors have been able use the field of rites for their professionalisation.


  • Anna Davidsson-Bremborg
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Philosophy, Ethics and Religion


  • funeral parlour, funeral rites, body, stigma, Funeral director, professionalisation, Theology, Teologi
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date2002 Nov 8
  • Avdelningen för religionsbeteendevetenskap, Teologiska institutionen, Lunds universitet,
Print ISBNs91-628-5410-0
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2002-11-08 Time: 14:15 Place: Edens hörsal, Paradisg. 5, Lund External reviewer(s) Name: Straarup, Jørgen Title: Prof Affiliation: Department of Religious Studies, Umeå University ---