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Title: The development of cremation in England 1820-1990 : a sociological analysis.
Author: Jupp, Peter Creffield.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3593 6173
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 1992
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This thesis examines the development of cremation in England, the first Christian country to cremate, rather than bury, the majority of its dead. It offers the first full length account of cremation in England. The thesis first compares the social setting of funerals in simpler and industrial societies. It then examines successive developments in Roman Catholic policy towards cremation and compares contemporary modes of disposal in selected European countries, emphasising the differing role of specific social institutions. The history of cremation in England is traced from 1820, when the social problems of rapid urbanisation challenged the Churches' monopoly in the disposal of the dead. The development of local authority cemeteries after 1850 is presented as a critical point in the secularisation of death. After legalisation in 1884, the acceptance of cremation was slow, only 9% of funerals by 1945. Thereafter, local authorities rapidly and successfully promoted cremation which first outnumbered burial in 1967. The thesis examines the causes of this rapid change. It estimates the effects upon cremation practice of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Contemporary choice between burial and cremation is examined from the perspective of 58 families, bereaved in 1988-9. Fieldwork was conducted in a Fenland village and in an East Midlands city. Disposal decisions are revealed as taken on grounds meaningful in family terms and rarely with a religious referent. The funeral is a critical focus for social and conceptual attitudes to death. In developed societies, the traditional functions of the funeral have been reduced and the social threat of death mitigated, by such factors as greater longevity, the professionalisation of death work, the changing role of the family and the reduced salience of religion. Through its analysis of the replacement of burial by cremation, this thesis offers a further understanding of the relationship between death and social structure. -
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Funerals; Christianity; Roman Catholicism