Funerary practices in the 1990s

SND-ID: SND 0919

Creator/Principal investigator(s)

Göran Gustafsson - Lund University, Department of Theology


Already at the planning stage of the “Funerary Practices – A Study of Social Differences after Death” project, the fundamental idea was that the main data for the study would be provided by a broad survey of the large majority of all Church of Sweden funerals. It is well-known that the weakening of Christian customs related to service attendance and the use of other Christian practices (baptism, confirmation, and church weddings) is less pronounced when it comes to church funerals.
The ritual form of the church funeral is largely defined through the order of service for funerals in Den svenska kyrkohandboken [approx. The Swedish Church Manual]. However, for several points in the service, the handbook offers alternative forms and the possibility of leaving them out, and the final part of the service mainly depends on whether there will be an earth burial or a cremation. There is hardly any information from previous studies regarding the formulation of the funeral service, and there is no individual information about what happens to the coffin with the deceased after the service.
These facts alo

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Research principal, contributors, and funding

Research principal

Lund University

Responsible department/unit

Department of Theology

Protection and ethical review

Data contains personal data


Method and time period

Unit of analysis


Parish priests

Time Method

Sampling procedure

Total universe/Complete enumeration
Seen as a survey of parish priests, the study would constitute a census. Accordingly, the questionnaire should have been sent to 3,132 priests. Those who stated that they were on leave, and thus could not be expected to officiate at funerals, were excluded from the population, giving a total of 3,035 priests.
For a number of pastorates, the position as rector was reported to be vacant. All the letters with questionnaires were sent to individuals and not to someone holding a particular position. This was unproblematic to the extent that other active priests were substituting for a vacant position, but not when a retired priest did so. The result was that the funeral practices of a few pastorates in thinly populated areas, each with the position as rector vacant at the time of the survey, were not included.
Whether “kontraksadjunkter” (approx. deanery curates) should be included in the population was doubtful. They appear to have somewhat different positions in the various dioceses. Apart from any special functions, many of them also have a parish connection; the Finnish-language parish work within the Church of Sweden is largely managed by “kontraktsadjunkter”, which is why this category of priests is included in the survey population.
Another borderline category included was those who were listed as “Other priests”. This category includes priests who, for various reasons, have been hired for personal position; they are hired by the diocese without any diocesan functions but they are not connected to any particular pastorate. They can assume particular duties such as funerals, and are for that reason included in the survey population.
Priests within the Swedish Evangelical Mission (Evangeliska Fosterlands-Stiftelsen, EFS) were not included in the survey population. The number of annual funerals for the roughly 150 EFS priests listed in the roster is considerably smaller than for priests with a “normal” parish position. A high response rate in this group could have given a somewhat skewed picture of how funerals according to the order of the Church of Sweden are carried out.

Time period(s) investigated

1997-05 – 1997-12

Geographic coverage

Geographic spread

Geographic location: Sweden

Lowest geographic unit


Topic and keywords

Research area

Social behaviour and attitudes, Religion and values (CESSDA Topic Classification)
Sociology, Philosophy, Ethics and Religion, Religious Studies, Ethnology (The Swedish standard of fields of research 2011)


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Gustafsson, Göran (2001). Begravningssed på 1990-talet : materialredovisning och resultatöversikt. Lunds universitets kyrkohistoriska arkiv
Swepub | Till lärosätets (lu) databas
ISBN: 91-89515-04-8
ISSN: 0455-0196

Evertsson, Anna J. (2002). "Gå vi till paradis med sång": psalmers funktion i begravningsgudstjänster. Lund Uni.

Gustafsson, Göran (2006). Kände prästen den döda? Känner sorgehusen prästen? Om personliga relationer vid begravningar. Kring begravningar i nutid: tre studier. Curt Dahlgren och Göran Gustafsson (eds.). Centrum för teologi och religionsvetenskap, 85-132.
Swepub | Publication database of Lund Uni.
ISSN: 1651-4433
ISBN: 91-974760-2-1

Dahlgren, Curt och Jan Hermanson (2006). "Här ska min aska vila". Nya platser och riter för gravsättning av aska på andra platser än begravningsplats. Kring begravningar i nutid: tre studier. Curt Dahlgren och Göran Gustafsson (red.). Centrum för teologi och religionsvetenskap, 7-56.
Swepub | Publication database of Lund Uni.
ISBN: 91-974760-2-1
ISSN: 1651-4433

Gustafsson, Göran (2003). När det sociala kapitalet växlas in: om begravningar och deltagandet i begravningar. Centrum för teologi och religionsvetenskap, Univ.
Swepub | Till lärosätets (lu) databas
ISSN: 1651-4432
ISBN: 91-974760-0-5

Gustafsson, Göran (1998). Begravningssamtalet - en studie i kyrklig praxis under 1990-talet. Begravning. Jan-Olof Aggedal (red.). Svenska kyrkans forskningsråd, 129-162.
ISSN: 1101-7937

Davidsson Bremborg, Anna (2006). Mat och minnen. En studie av samlingar efter begravning.Kring begravningar i nutid: tre studier. Curt Dahlgren och Göran Gustafsson (eds.). Centrum för teologi och religionsvetenskap, 57-84.
Swepub | Publication database of Lund Uni
ISSN: 1651-4433
ISBN: 91-974760-2-1

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Funerary practices in the 1990s


The dataset is comprised of an SPSS file, containing coded answers to the study's questionnaire.

Version 2.0

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Göran Gustafsson. Lund University (2013). Funerary practices in the 1990s. Swedish National Data Service. Version 2.0.

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Data format / data structure


Creator/Principal investigator(s)

Göran Gustafsson - Lund University, Department of Theology

Time period(s) investigated

1997-05 – 1997-12

Data collection

  • Mode of collection: Self-administered questionnaire: paper
  • Time period(s) for data collection: 1997-04–1997-12
  • Data collector: Lund University, Lund University Church History Archive



Number of individuals/objects


Response rate/participation rate


Published: 2013-09-16
Last updated: 2016-09-22