«… så her må vi finne på noe annet.»: Hvorfor velger mennesker i dag personlig gravferdsseremoni? En religionssosiologisk analyse, basert på samtaler med gravferdskonsulenter
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This master thesis is a study in the sociology of religion, and the main theme for the thesis is religion and modernity. In this thesis, we focus on a new phenomenon within the field of funeral ceremonies. This new phenomenon is the emergence of an alternative form of ceremony which is called “personal ceremony”. Since 2007, personal ceremony has been presented as an alternative at a funeral agency in Trondheim, Norway which is named Svanholm funeral agency. This type of ceremony is establishing itself as a third alternative in addition to the traditional church-ceremony and a humanistic ceremony. The personal ceremony is put together by the bereaved and they are free to arrange the ceremony as they wish. These types of ceremonies are getting increasingly popular and the research question in the thesis is: “Why do people today choose personal ceremony?” The empirical material in the thesis is based on interviews with two funeral agents who work at Svanholm funeral agency. Through the interviews we get information about how the agency has experienced changes in the field of funeral arrangements and we also get information about what people today are concerned about and what they have expressed to the funeral agents. In approaching the material we have used the main guidelines in the research method which is named “grounded theory”. In the interpretation of the material we have a sociological focus and the researchers that are used as the theoretical basis for the interpretation is Catherine Bell, Peter L. Berger, Zygmunt Bauman, Thomas Luckmann, Tony Walter and Alfred Schütz. Through analyzing the interviews, we found some themes that seem to be important for the bereaved. They want the ceremony to be “in the spirit” of the deceased and the content in the ceremony must be experienced as meaningful for the grieving. The thesis does not present a definitive conclusion to the research-question. Some of the bereaved express that they don’t want a church ceremony because it’s doesn’t feel right for them. One general explanation to why people choose personal ceremonies is because these types of ceremonies correspond better with the modern way of life. In the traditional church ceremony and the humanistic ceremony, you have to accept their rules and restrictions. The modern individual is on the other hand, used to pick and mix as it wishes on most of the areas of life. Therefore it is natural to do the same when it comes to arranging a funeral ceremony.