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Segregating the Dead

  • Lindsay Prior

Abstract

‘In establishing a society of the dead, the society of the living regularly recreates itself’, said Hertz (1960:72) and that single statement illuminates much about the nature and meaning of the processes and procedures which link the living to the dead. Hertz’s statement, however, embodies two separate claims which it would be as well to disentangle at the start for, by using the term recreate, it would seem that Hertz was suggesting that the society of the dead not only serves to regenerate, but also to reflect the society of the living. And in many respects the whole of the second part of this book involves little more than an elaboration of these two assertions so that the chapters which follow are mainly concerned with examining both the manner and the structures in which such recreation and reflection occur. First, however, I shall seek to demonstrate the ways in which these principles operate in specific and concrete circumstances and I shall attempt to do so by concentrating on the distribution of death within the cemetery, the hospital and the city. By embarking on such an investigation I hope to show that the ways in which the dead are organised within these three fields not only reflect the social world of the living, but, in the act of reflecting, provide a basis and a structure through which that world is sustained and reaffirmed.

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Copyright information

© Lindsay Prior 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lindsay Prior
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of UlsterJordanstownUK

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