Thursday, 10 February 2011

Sociology Corner: Graveyards & Class Wars

I found this BBC article about a graveyard in Colchester dubbed the “Poundland Cemetery” (kiwi readers, think “$2 Shop Cemetery”). Apparently the windchimes have got so bad they’re disturbing those who want to grieve in silence, but also people aren’t happy about the growing number of plastic, lights, animation and clutter building up where there used to be respectful stone graves.


Obviously I took note because I’m from Essex, but the article goes on to show that graveyard clashes over taste and class are happening all over the country.


There’s a good deal to suggest “classes” don’t exist in the UK any more, certainly not in the way they used to – ever since the advent of TV and mass media, the boundaries have been crumbling and blurring.


But that’s not to say class clashes don’t carry on to this day. If anything, what I like about the article is the confirmation that class superiority is more about taste than about money, which I suspect has always been the case.


Personally I can see it both ways – windchimes can certainly be annoying, and the need for cheap, plastic and showy ornamentation says more about the emotional needs of the living than it does about the dead. On the other hand it’s not the Victorian age any more, and our attitudes towards death don’t need to revolve around silence/black/stone/dullness/mourning any more. I certainly wouldn’t want people to be boring and stuffy when I die.


Maybe we need to set up “fun” graveyards where people can be as tacky and weird as they want?


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