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The State of the UK funeral industry

Fletcher, Samantha and McGowan, William (2020) The State of the UK funeral industry. Critical Social Policy. ISSN 0261-0183

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Abstract

The UK funeral industry is a frequently overlooked sector within critical policy discussions of State practice and welfare provision. In this article, we propose three ‘ideal types’ for making sense of State-Industry interactions: Explicit State Provision; Public-Private Legislation; and Corporate Capital. Situating these ideal types against the backdrop of austerity, we highlight three respective examples from the industry to evidence different roles performed by Funeral Directors (FDs), including: negotiations with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP); HM Coroner contract tendering; and larger scale processes of capital accumulation through the industry’s biggest provider, Dignity plc. Our analysis reveals that the funeral industry represents a nebulous political and moral economy whose local practices differ markedly, evidencing critical insights into the workings, both present and ‘absent’, of the neoliberal State.

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