Department of Social & Policy Sciences

Social Death: questioning the life-death boundary

Fri Feb 12 11:45:00 GMT 2016

Contemporary Social Sciences book cover

Contemporary Social Sciences.


Is it possible to be dead whilst still alive? By contrast is it possible to be alive while being dead?

A special issue of Contemporary Social Science , the journal of the Academy of Social Sciences, on the theme of social death has been published; the editors are PhD candidate Jana Kralova and Professor Tony Walter in the Department of Social & Policy Sciences.

Social death is when the social existence of a person or group ceases.

Professor Walter said: “This is the first ever publication to bring different perspectives on social death together in a pioneering effort to bring to the field conceptual clarity rooted in empirical data.”

Chapters from the UK, Romania, Sweden and Israel analyse the fourth age, end of life policies, dying alone at home, suicide, photographs on gravestones, bereavement, and the agency of dead musicians. The issue is introduced by an original theoretical discussion of the concept and its uses by Jana Kralova asking the question “What is social death?”.