Wessex Research Group - University of Bath

University of Bath - Universities & Schools

Title University of Bath Centre for Death and Society
Venue Claverton, Bath
Map Show Location
Contact Taught Postgraduate Administrator, Department of Social & Policy Sciences, University of Bath , Bath , BA2 7AY
Tel +44 (0) 1225 384528
Email cdas@bath.ac.uk
Web www.bath.ac.uk/cdas
Schedule Course: MSc Death and Society

Even in the most affluent society, risks around death remain. A feared, drawn-out dying through stroke, cancer or dementia becomes more likely the more affluent a society becomes.  Environmental concerns now render traditional ways to dispose of the dead problematic. Loss and bereavement threaten personal, social and economic wellbeing. Poverty and disadvantage create added risks, including the risk of dying much sooner. All these risks draw heavily on both public and private resources.

Yet research in both rich and poor countries also shows how practices around death can unite groups, develop communities and mobilise social change. For example, caring for a dying person at home requires yet can also build local social networks; collective provision for a decent funeral established the principle of social welfare in Victorian Britain and is doing so in a number of developing countries today; the anger of grief can motivate social movements for political and policy change.Our internationally recognised research on social aspects of death, dying and bereavement focuses on:

  • the experiences of people facing death and bereavement
  • practice and policy concerning the dying, the dead, and the bereaved
  • how end-of-life practices require yet can also foster community development
  • relationships between the living and the dead
  • how all this is influenced by economics, politics, inequality, social networks, technology and culture

19-06-2010. Venue: Bath

A Good Send Off: Local, Regional & National Variations in how the British Dispose of their Dead

Centre for Death & Society Annual Conference: What is a good send off? A good send off in Stornaway might not be at all good in Surbiton. The exclusion of women from the burial ceremony in some Welsh valley funerals would appal some women in Fife who help lower the coffin into the grave. Funerals in Totnes are typically very different from funerals in Tottenham. And that's just for starters- when we add in the customs and practices of those who have migrated to the British Isles from elsewhere, the picture becomes ever more complex.

The conference will try to sort out which of these pictures is the more accurate. Are there enduring local and regional differences? Or do these inevitably wither in the face of a standardised modernity? In other words, do history and geography still count? The conference will therefore not look at the new varieties of funeral practice introduced by those who have arrived in the UK since the second half of the twentieth century, nor at social class differences. Nor will we look at how Britain differs from other countries, even though international differences in funeral culture and organisation are substantial. Important though these all are, they are for another day, and perhaps another conference, or conferences!

On June 19, CDAS is running a one-day conference in Bath titled 'A Good Send Off: Local, Regional & National Variations in how the British Dispose of their Dead'. The aim of the conference is to ask whether there is any such thing as a British way of death, or whether there is actually a mosaic of practices. And if there is a mosaic, what patterns might be discernable within it? Venue: Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institute, Bath, UK. www.bath.ac.uk/cdas/news/conferences/index.html


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