Professor Tony Walter
The world's only Professor of Death Studies
I was a freelance writer for many years, before becoming Lecturer, then Reader, in Sociology at the University of Reading 1994-2007.
In the mid-1980s, I wrote three books on unemployment and social security, but over the past twenty years I have focused on researching, writing and lecturing on death in modern society, e.g. funerals, afterlife beliefs, personal bereavement and public mourning, human remains in museums, new discourses of spirituality, death in the news media and in online social media.
I have helped promote the interdisciplinary study of death and society, and collaborated with colleagues in, for example, religious studies, history, archaeology, linguistics, psychology, social work, geography, computer science, medicine, and gerontology.
I also work with the churches and Civil Ceremonies Ltd to train funeral celebrants.
I joined the University of Bath in 2006. From 2011-15, I was Director of the Centre for Death & Society, and on my retirement from university employment in September 2015 became Honorary Professor. As well as giving presentations around the world and continuing to work with CDAS (e.g. media, organising seminars), I am now writing three books that bring together my past 25 years' work: 1) An introduction to death and society that takes national differences seriously. 2) A book on the roles of the dead in contemporary society. 3) A short introduction to key challenges in death and dying today.
- Social relationships between the living and the dead
- Informal social networks (online and offline) at the end of life
- Bereavement following substance use
- How and why different societies manage death differently
- Angels and bereavement
Sayer, D. and Walter, J., 2016. Digging the dead in a digital media age. In: Williams, H. and Giles, M., eds. Archaeologists and the Dead.Vol. 9780198753537. Oxford, U. K.: Oxford University Press, pp. 367-395.
Walter, T. and Gittings, C., 2010. What will the neighbours say? Reactions to field and garden burial. In: Hockey, J., Komaromy, C. and Woodthorpe, K., eds. The Matter of Death: Space, Place and Materiality. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 165-177.
Walter, T., 2009. Dark tourism: mediating between the dead and the living. In: Sharpley, R. and Stone, P. R., eds. The Darker Side of Travel: The Theory and Practice of Dark Tourism. Bristol, U. K.: Channel View Publications, pp. 39-55. (Aspects of Tourism)
Walter, T., 2008. The new public mourning. In: Stroebe, M. S., Hansson, R. O., Schut, H. and Stroebe, W., eds. Handbook of Bereavement Research and Practice: Advances in Theory and Intervention. Washinton DC: American Psychological Association.
Klass, D. and Walter, T., 2001. Processes of grieving: how bonds are continued. In: Stroebe, M., Hansson, R., Stroebe, W. and Schut, H., eds. Handbook of Bereavement Research: Consequences, Coping, and Care. Washington DC: American Psychological Association, pp. 431-448.
Walter, T., 2016. Forthcoming. Bodies and Ceremonies:Is the UK funeral industry still fit for purpose? Mortality
Templeton, L., Allison, F., McKell, J., Valentine, C., Walter, J., Velleman, R., Bauld, L., Hay, G. and Hollywood, J., 2016. Bereavement through substance use: findings from an interview study with adults from England and Scotland. Addiction Research & Theory, 24 (5), pp. 341-354.
Walter, T., 2016. The dead who become angels:bereavement and vernacular religion in the 21st century. Omega: Journal of Death & Dying, 73 (1), pp. 3-28.
Walter, T. and Bailey, T., 2016. Forthcoming. How Funerals Accomplish Family:Findings from a Mass Observation study. Omega: Journal of Death & Dying
Templeton, L., Valentine, C., McKell, J., Ford, A., Velleman, R., Walter, T., Hay, G., Bauld, L. and Hollywood, J., 2016. Bereavement following a fatal overdose:the experiences of adults in England and Scotland. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy
Valentine, C., Bauld, L. and Walter, T., 2016. Bereavement following substance misuse:a disenfranchised grief. Omega: The Journal of Death and Dying, 72 (4), pp. 283-301.
Walter, T., 2016. Judgement, myth and hope in life-centred funerals. Theology, 119 (4), pp. 253-260.
Valentine, C. and Walter, J., 2015. Creative responses to a drug- or alcohol-related death:a socio-cultural analysis. Illness, Crisis, & Loss, 23 (4), pp. 310-322.
Walter, T., Ford, A., Templeton, L., Valentine, C. and Velleman, R., 2015. Compassion or stigma?:How adults bereaved by alcohol or drugs experience services. Health and Social Care in the Community
Borgstrom, E. and Walter, T., 2015. Choice and compassion at the end of life:A critical analysis of recent English policy discourse. Social Science and Medicine, 136-137, pp. 99-105.
Walter, T., 2015. Communication media and the dead:from the Stone Age to Facebook. Mortality, 20 (3), pp. 215-232.
Walter, T., 2015. New mourners, old mourners:online memorial culture as a chapter in the history of mourning. New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia, 21 (1-2), pp. 10-24.
Rumble, H., Troyer, J., Walter, T. and Woodthorpe, K., 2014. Disposal or dispersal?:Environmentalism and final treatment of the British dead. Mortality, 19 (3), pp. 243-260.
Walter, T., 2014. Organizations and death:A view from death studies. Culture and Organization, 20 (1), pp. 68-76.
Walter, T., 2012. Why different countries manage death differently: A comparative analysis of modern urban societies. British Journal of Sociology, 63 (1), pp. 123-145.
Robson, P. and Walter, T., 2012. Hierarchies of loss: a critique of disenfranchised grief. Omega: Journal of Death & Dying, 66 (2), pp. 97-119.
Walter, T., 2012. How people who are dying or mourning engage with the arts. Music and Arts in Action, 4 (1), pp. 73-98.
Walter, T., 2011. Angels not souls:Popular religion in the online mourning for British celebrity Jade Goody. Religion, 41 (1), pp. 29-51.
Abel, J., Bowra, J., Walter, T. and Howarth, G., 2011. Compassionate community networks:Supporting home dying. BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care, 1 (2), pp. 129-133.
Walter, T., Hourizi, R., Moncur, W. and Pitsillides, S., 2011. Does the internet change how we die and mourn? Overview and analysis. Omega: Journal of Death & Dying, 64 (4), pp. 275-302.
Walter, T., 2010. Jade and the journalists:media coverage of a young British celebrity dying of cancer. Social Science and Medicine, 71 (5), pp. 853-860.
Leicht, K. T., Walter, T., Sainsaulieu, I. and Davies, S., 2009. New Public Management and New Professionalism across Nations and Contexts. Current Sociology, 57 (4), pp. 581-605.
Walter, T., 2009. Just get me to the crem in time! Travels in space and cyberspace. ICCM Journal, 77 (4), pp. 29-30.
Walter, T., 2008. To see for myself: informed consent and the culture of openness. Journal of Medical Ethics, 34 (9), pp. 675-678.
Hass, J. and Walter, T., 2007. Parental grief in three societies: networks and religion as social supports in mourning. Omega: The Journal of Death and Dying, 54 (3), pp. 179-198.
Walter, T., 2006. Telling the dead man's tale: bridging the gap between the living and the dead. Bereavement Care, 25 (2), pp. 23-26.
Walter, T., 2006. What is complicated grief? A social constructionist answer. Omega: The Journal of Death and Dying, 52 (1), pp. 71-79.
Walter, T., 2005. Three ways to arrange a funeral: Mortuary variation in the modern West. Mortality, 10 (3), pp. 173-192.
Cook, G. and Walter, T., 2005. Rewritten rites: language and social relations in traditional and contemporary funerals. Discourse & Society, 16 (3), pp. 365-391.
Walter, T., 2004. Plastination for Display: a new way to dispose of the dead. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 10 (3), pp. 603-627.
Walter, T., 2004. Body Worlds: clinical detachment and anatomical awe. Sociology of Health and Illness, 26, pp. 464-488.
Walter, T., 2003. Historical and cultural variants on the good death. BMJ, 327 (7408), pp. 218-220.
Walter, T., 2003. Hospices and rituals after death: a survey of British hospice chaplains. International Journal of Palliative Nursing, 9 (2), pp. 80-85.
Walter, T., 2002. Spirituality in palliative care: opportunity or burden? Palliative Medicine, 16 (2), pp. 133-139.
Walter, T., 2001. From Cathedral to Supermarket: mourning, silence and solidarity. Sociological Review, 49 (4), pp. 494-511.
Walter, T. and Waterhouse, H., 2001. Lives-long learning: the effects of reincarnation belief on everyday life in England1. Nova Religio, 5 (1), pp. 85-101.
Waterhouse, H. and Walter, T., 2001. Une simple coquille la mort et la réincarnation (Just an overcoat: the body and reincarnation). Recherches Sociologiques, 32 (2), pp. 35-47.
Walter, T., 2000. Grief narratives: The role of medicine in the policing of grief. Anthropology & Medicine, 7 (1), pp. 97-114.
Walter, T. and Davies, D., 2008. Christian funerals in a changing society:a call to research and reflection. The Churches Funeral Group, London.
Conference or Workshop Items
Walter, J. A., 2014. Keynote address:death by drug/alcohol abuse: supporting bereaved families. In: Barts Health NHS Trust Bereavement Conference, 2014-06-16 - 2014-06-16.
Walter, T., 2009. Artists and their Emotions, Social Scientists and their Data, and the Spaces in Between. In: 9th International Conference on the Social Context of Death, Dying and Disposal, 2009-09-09 - 2009-09-12.
Walter, T., 2009. Why Different Countries Do Death Differently: A comparison of modern urban societies. In: Death & Dying in Europe between the Eighteenth and Twenty-First Century, 2009-09-25 - 2009-09-27.
Walter, T., 2009. Figuring and Refiguring Death Rites: National variations. In: Refiguring Death Rites Research Group, 2009-06-15.
Walter, T. and Borgstrom, E., 2015. Is the UK really the best place in the world to die? The Conversation
Walter, J., 2015. How the digital age has changed our approach to death and grief. Good Men Project