This is a reminder about the 'Ask an Undertaker' post, which allows people to anonymously and publicly ask and answer questions about the Australian funeral industry. Anyone can post a question, and I or another person with experience will try and answer it.
One thing I have come across is the issue of pricing. This is a big issue for all involved in the funeral industry, from mourners to staff, and one I want to discuss in more detail. So today I'll be looking at the balancing act many funeral home have to perform when it comes to pricing.
That is, the balance between getting paid enough to operate and not overcharging the deceased and/or mourners.
I've recently been asked a few times where my honours thesis is available to read, or if I can give out copies. Unfortunately my thesis is not, and never will be, publicly available for three main reasons. Firstly, there are concerns for participants who gave their consent to be involved in the research, but not to be involved in the blog. And secondly, because UNSW also has some claim to the thesis and making it publicly available could raise concerns. The third reason is that simply put my thesis is not appropriate for a public audience. That is, it's boring for most people and bogged down in academic jargon.
So instead every now and then I'll summarise and explain a few select aspects of the thesis which would interest people. For now I'll put up my abstract as it summarises my whole thesis. I might put up extracts from the thesis, but no quotes from participants and nothing more than a few lines. This is a summary and explanation of what it was about and why I employed certain methods.
Social Expressions of Public & Private: Australian Understandings of the Funeral Industry
The notion of public and private is often presented as a dichotomous opposition. This is demonstrated with the Australian funeral industry as it is often argued that the funeral industry operates in a private sphere which is distinctly separate from public accessibility and understanding. This research critically unpacks the application of public and private to the funeral industry with the aim of analysing how notions of ‘public’ and ‘private’ are articulated through the social space of the Australian funeral industry. Surveys and interviews were conducted with funeral staff, celebrants, and members of the general public along with participant observation at two funeral homes, exploring the themes of public and private. Through this it will be argued that public and private does not operate in a clear dichotomy. The research found an overlap in public and private, and unclear boundaries between the notion of ‘public’ and ‘private’, particularly with the perceived reasons and responsibilities for this separation. As such I argue that the dichotomous presentation of public and private does not accurately represent the complex interrelationships and dynamics involved. This thesis provides a unique understanding of how the concept of public and private is articulated in social spaces.