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JOUR Final Jessie Yang November 28, 2016 (Those who are “closest” to death) With the appearance of aging problem, a specific industry in our society is naturally on the rise: funeral service. But meanwhile most of Chinese have little knowledge about people in this industry, which partly leads to closure of it. However, people generally lack objective knowledge about them. Funeral service, a kind of taboo and a sensitive topic in china, is a special industry among all walks of life. (picture 5 attached) The main tasks of workers in this industry are selling stuff for ritual during some specific solar terms such as Qingming and offering the one package services for the dead’s families to make arrangements of funeral during the whole process. Mrs. Han, the owner of funeral services company on Dongjiadu Road in Shanghai, has owned this store for nearly 20 years. When she was asked about the reason for her choice to take up this job, she said “for making more money.” A large portion of people of this job make the choice because of great profit margin. Here are some of stuff displayed in the store necessary for the ceremony. (picture 2) Mrs. Han said:“ How we gain customers is through recommendation among them instead of through any marketing tools, good location or eye-catching facade.” And her store is obviously not located in a bustling district. (picture 1) Most of funeral service companies have a tiny façade and a small occupation of land but shelves inside are clean and tidy. (picture 3) For long people have treated funeral workers with bias and hold a kind of stereotype and traditional ideology to avoid making contact with them in daily life. Many film makers have focused on this theme in recently years, such as Departures made by Takita Youjirou in 2008, Dead Make-up Artist made by Tokyo TV Station in 2008. (picture 10, 11) And Mrs. Han said she has get used to this and she doesn’t feel uncomfortable any more after 20 years of working. But she still won’t show up on her friends’ wedding ceremonies personally because she is afraid that her attendance means “unlucky” to them. Mrs. Tang, who has also owned Fushouyuan Funeral Service Company on Zaozhuang Road for nearly 20 years, has witnessed a lot of ridiculous phenomenon in recent years. Legacy issues happened among children after parents died, which really made her feel bad. (picture 4) She also found that young men in Shanghai are more particular about this kind of conventions and strictly follow the “rules”.


As far as death is concerned, most people view this with reverence and fear in their mind. Anything connected with this is more or less mysterious. However, many practitioners, after taking up this kind of job for many years, changed this kind of ideology. When first entering the store of Mrs. Tang, she was playing bright music aloud, which was different from our origin impression on the atmosphere in this kind of stores. Mrs. Tang, holds the opposite opinion about the profit margin of this industry, said that profit they can gain from the products is greatly limited, especially when customers bargain with her and she lowered the price in order to keep them. She said that the profit of a pile of silver paper is only 0.1 yuan. (picture 7) Funeral service private enterprise has also faced a threat from competition with the ones cooperating with hospitals. This kind of collaboration has led to monopoly partly. And due to monopoly, hospitals raised prices and ruined the public praise which has nothing to do with these private companies. In most of situation, customers tend to choose the quickest way to make arrangements for a funeral of their families. And it’s not fair for these private companies. Fushoulv Funeral Service Company on Zaozhuang Road is an example that it collaborates with hospital and purchase information about the dead people from hospitals, in which process doctors and nurses gain profits while the price goes up. (picture 9)


Those who are closest to death  
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