The Monopolisation of the Australian Funeral Industry

Drew Cottle, Angela Keys

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Abstract

There is one service everyone requires once per lifetime - a service provided by the funeral industry. Death as a saleable commodity has become as important on the bourse as it·was in the hearse. However, no definitive study of the Australian funeral industry has been conducted to date. Writing two decades ago about the funeral industry in New South Wales, Duncan Waterson and Sandra Tweedie (1985:133) concluded that it was imperative to examine the funeral industry's economic structure and 'its provision of goods and services' within the wider context of Australian society. Waterson and Tweedie delineated the historical contours of the funeral industry in New South Wales until the 1980s. More recently, Pat Ialland (2002) devoted a chapter of Australian Ways of Death to funerals and undertakers, but her historical study ended its exploration in the 1920s. This article seeks to tentatively fill the gap by providing a composite picture of the Australian funeral industry and the changes it has experienced from the early 1980s until the present.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-44
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Australian Political Economy
Volume54
Issue numberDec 2004
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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