Dirty Work and Stigma: Caretakers of Death in Cemeteries - Núm. 63, Enero 2018 - Revista de Estudios Sociales - Libros y Revistas - VLEX 702017569

Dirty Work and Stigma: Caretakers of Death in Cemeteries

AutorAnalÍa Soria Batista - Wanderley Codo
CargoDoctor in Sociology from Universidade de Brasília, Brazil - Post-Doctor in Social Psychology from London School of Economics , United Kingdom
Dirty Work and Stigma: Caretakers of Death in Cemeteries*
Analía Soria Batista** — Wanderley Codo***
Received date: March 3, 2017 · Acceptance date: July 12, 2017 · Modication date: August 20, 2017
DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.7440/res63.2018.06
How to cite: Batista, Analía Soria and Wanderley Codo. 2018. “Dirty Work and Stigma: Caretakers of Death in Cemeteries”. Revista
de Estudios Sociales 63: 72-83. https://dx.doi.org/10.7440/res63.2018.06
* This article was the product of a broader research about Mental Health and Work in workers of the municipality of Santo André and
it was funded by Instituto de Previdência de Santo André – São Paulo (Brazil).
** Doctor in Sociology from Universidade de Brasília (Brazil). Professor of Social Sciences Institute, Sociology Department, Universidade
de Brasília and Researcher of the Nucleus of Studies on Violence and Safety – NSVIS, Center of Advanced Multidisciplinary Studies –
CAMS, Universidade de Brasília. Latest publications: “Trabalho de cuidado: um conceito situacional e multidimensional” (co-autorship).
Revista Brasileira de Ciência Política 18: 59-80, 2015; “Agentes penitenciarios y trabajo de seguridad en el sistema penitenciario de
Brasilia-DF, Brasil.” In Pensar las Cárceles en América Latina, edited by Cholé Constant, 106-126. Lima: Instituto Francés de Estudios
Andinos – Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú – Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 2016. * analiasoriabatista@gmail.com
*** Post-Doctor in Social Psychology from London School of Economics (United Kingdom). Titular professor at the Institute of Psychology
of Universidade de Brasília. Researcher of the Nucleus of Studies on Violence and Safety – NEVIS, Center of Advanced Multidisci-
plinary Studies – CAMS, Universidade de Brasília. Latest publications: “Assedio Moral como forma de gestão no serviço publico.”
Accepted for publication in Psicologia & Sociedade, 2017; Julgar e cuidar (saúde mental e trabalho do perito medico) (organizer). São
Paulo: LTR, 2015. * wandcodo@gmail.com
ABSTRACT | This article uses the category dirty work in the analysis of the identity of morticians and funeral
directors, as well as it identies techniques and practices to deal with professional stigma. The article analyzes
the role of the types of stains in the nature of these workers’ relationships with their dirty job, and the
inuence of context elements. This research, which integrates quantitative and qualitative methods, uses
scales pertaining to this job and semi-structured interviews. It is concluded that the presence of moral stains
in funeral directors brings the group together more solidly, and that elements such as class and race inhabit in
the social construction of these discredited jobs and operate in the production of stained identities.
KEYWORDS | Thesaurus: identity; ideologies. Author: cemeteries; dirty work
Trabajo sucio y estigma: cuidadores de la muerte en los cementerios
RESUMEN | El artículo utiliza la categoría trabajo sucio en el análisis de la identidad de sepultadores y de agentes
funerarios (transporte y preparación de cadáveres), así como identica técnicas y prácticas de manipulación
de los estigmas profesionales. Analiza el papel de los tipos de mácula en la naturaleza de la relación de estos
trabajadores con el trabajo sucio y la inuencia de elementos contextuales. La investigación, que integra los
métodos cuantitativo y cualitativo, emplea escalas del trabajo y entrevistas semiestructuradas. Se concluye que
la presencia de mácula moral en los agentes funerarios (transporte y preparación de cadáveres) inuye en una
mayor cohesión del grupo y que elementos como el estrato social y la raza están en la construcción social de
estos trabajos desprestigiados y operan en la producción de las identidades maculadas.
PALABRAS CLAVE | Thesaurus: identidad, ideologias. Autor: cementerios; trabajo sucio
Trabalho sujo e estigma: cuidadores da morte nos cemitérios
RESUMO | O artigo utiliza a categoria trabalho sujo na análise da identidade de sepultadores e motoristas
paramentadores, bem como identica técnicas e práticas de manipulação dos estigmas prossionais. Analisa
o papel dos tipos de mácula na natureza da relação desses trabalhadores com o trabalho sujo e a inuência
Dirty Work and Stigma: Caretakers of Death in Cemeteries | Analía Soria Batista · Wanderley Codo
de elementos contextuais. Esta pesquisa, que integra os métodos quantitativo e qualitativo, utiliza escalas do
trabalho e entrevistas semiestruturadas. Conclui-se que a presença de mácula moral nos motoristas paramen-
tadores inuencia para a maior coesão do grupo, e que elementos como a classe e a raça estão na construção
social desses trabalhos desprestigiados e operam na produção das identidades maculadas.
PALAVRAS-CHAVE | Thesaurus: identidade; ideologias. Autor: cemitérios; trabalho sujo
This article analyzes relations between job and iden-
tity in caretakers of death,1 morticians2 and funeral
directors3 of public cemeteries in a town of the state of
Sao Paulo,4 Brazil. To this end, the category dirty work
is used to describe the moral division of work in soci-
ety; that is, the classication of professions according
to their bigger or smaller social prestige, which allows to
understand the stigmatization of workers that have
little prestige professions.
Stigma is an attribute that denes people as socially dis-
credited and disqualied for social acceptance (Goman
1963). The concept dirty work describes a discredited
and disqualied profession, and the individuals per-
taining to this category are considered dirty workers:
a socially impure individual (Douglas 2010). These col-
lective processes, by making visible the moral division
of work in societies, reveal a hierarchic social construc-
tion of those things that are considered repugnant,
coarse or lthy.
Frequently, dirty workers produce strong occupa-
tional and group cultures based on complicity, soli-
darity, jokes and funny stories about the day-to-day
job; by creating ideologies and practices that subvert
1 In the English-wr itten bibliog raphy used for t his art icle,
these workers a re referred to as de athcare.
2 According t o the Brazi lian Cla ssicati on of Occupation s
(BCO), mortic ians prov ide funeral serv ices, bui ld, prepare,
clean, ope n and close graves. They do b urials, exhu me and
cremate cor pses, tran sfer bodies and rests. T hey preserv e
cemeteries , work machines and to ols. They are respon sible
for secur ity in the cemeter y.
3 T he occupation of f uneral d irector doe s not appear in t he
BCO. The Town Hall of a m unicipa lity in t he state of Sao
Paulo dra fted the foll owing desc ription for a publ ic ocer
call for appl ications: To arrange f unerals, prepar e bodies in
cons wit h clothes a nd owers in pre viously es tablished
places; to go wi th and support dr ivers to remove, carr y and
place bodie s in cons; to col lect and sh ips corpses w ithin
and outside t he town; to en sure clea nliness a nd conserva-
tion of eet veh icles; to keep the workpla ce clean and neat,
removin g rests of owers a nd wrapping paper; to emb alm
corpses us ing specic co smetics.
4 These public ocers ge t their jobs th rough public e xams and
a requir ement is to have a high s chool diploma.
pejorative social meanings, they negotiate and resigni-
fy their activities.
In addition to identifying and analyzing techniques,
occupational ideologies and social practices of cem-
etery workers in their struggle against work stigma,
this article is a contribution to the discussion around
dirty work, identifying dierences in the way how
morticians and funeral directors build a relationship
with their job according to predominant stain types
(Ashforth and Kreiner 2013), and context and natural
elements that aect the social construction of dirty
work (Ashforth and Kreiner 2014), such as work-related
and not-work-related social situations that interfere in
group cohesion.
In rst place, the article suggests a discussion about the
analysis category of dirty work. Subsequently, research
methodology is described. In third place, results and
information analysis are presented considering profes-
sional categories of morticians and funeral directors.
Finally, conclusions are outlined.
Dirty Work
There are no researches in Brazil about workers of
funeral services guided by the category dirty work.
Authors such as Souza and Boemer (1988), Farina et al.
(2009), Câmara (2011), Ribas (2012), Kovács, Vaiciunas
and Gomes (2014) studied the job of funeral agent in
Brazil approaching dierent aspects of their activities,
but they did not use dirty work as an analysis category.
The concept of dirty work allowed Hughes (1962) to
think about Jew extermination activities perpetrated by
Nazi regime agents in concentration camps. This exter-
mination job was considered despicable by the German
society of the time despite the fact that many considered
it a necessary job given the social rise of Jews, which
many experienced as a threat. For this author, the cor-
nerstone that allows to understand dirty work are the
relationships between one part of the German society
of the time and Nazi agents, particularly the extermi-
nation camps militant group. The connection between
groups, in-group (militant group) and out-group (soci-
ety), was the punitive social mandate on Jews.

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