Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

Helsingin yliopisto, Helsinki 2006

Viimeinen matka

Toimintatutkimus kirkollisen hautauskentän professiostruktuurista

Tapani Erämaja

Väitöskirja, joulukuu 2006.
Helsingin yliopisto, teologinen tiedekunta, käytännöllisen teologian laitos.

This study is a qualitative examination of the professional structure of the ecclesias-tical funeral field. The research material is based on 13 funeral cases in the archdio-cese. The researcher participated in all the funerals and memorial events, interviewed the closest survivors, the officials of the funeral agency and the ecclesiastical actors. The material was collected by means of observation and recording of the interviews, and was later transcribed and analyzed.

The actors in this study are the survivors, the funeral agencies and the church. The survivors act as the buyers and users of the products (funeral services) who require both the funeral agencies and the church to assist them with the problems that the death has caused. The numbers of actions related to the death and to the funerals - the rituals of death - are placed on the action field, which in this study is called the funeral field. In this field, the researchquestion focused space and power, and the actions on the funeral field are highly ritualized. The theoretical model comes from Pierre Bourdieu.

The study showed an action structure on the funeral field in which the survivors first contacted a funeral agency, which then contacted the other actors of the field, re-served the date and place for the funeral, and organised the funeral arrangements. The funeral agencies arranged an opportunity for the survivors to have a last look at the deceased when he or she was placed in the coffin, and they held a moment of the prayer (if desired) before removing the deceased from the hospital's chapel. The sur-vivors contacted the pastor of the funeral much later. The pastor also participated in the memorial event. The survivors contacted the church musician through via pastor. In some cases, the survivors had neither met nor even seen the musician prior to the actual funeral service. Still, the music was of great importance to the survivors. In the research interviews, tensions emerged to some extent between the funeral agencies and the ecclesiastical actors; these actors attempted to resolve these tensions through organising negotiations.

In the beginning of the 20th century, the family took an active part in the preparations of the deceased and in the arrangements of the funerals, whereas this study showed that these days, survivors often transfer the preparations to the funeral agencies. The professional side of the funeral field has grown. The funeral agencies can be seen as providers of full services that act on the survivors' behalf, aspiring to high individu-ality and aiming to fulfil the survivors' wishes. In practise, the role of the church in carrying out the last journey was reduced in the research cases to the actual funeral. In several cases, the pastor or the cantor of the funeral had never before seen the per-son in the coffin at any stage of life or death. The proportion of cremations in funeral cases has increased rapidly, however, special issues related to these cremations (such as the possibility of holding a funeral service for the already cremated deceased) have seen little consideration in the church. In the church's liturgies on funeral rites, cremation is frequently overlooked. The pastors or the cantors did not participate in either the burial of the funeral urn or in the scattering of the deceased's ashes. The verger took care of it. The parishes had no adopted standard practices for cremations, yet in each case for the survivors that moment was crucial.

The title page of the publication

Julkaisu on tekijänoikeussäännösten alainen. Teosta voi lukea ja tulostaa henkilökohtaista käyttöä varten. Käyttö kaupallisiin tarkoituksiin on kielletty.

© Helsingin yliopisto 2006

Viimeksi päivitetty 20.11.2006

Yhteystiedot, Contact information E-thesis Helsingin yliopisto, University of Helsinki