Department of Social & Policy Sciences

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.

Research interests

  • Bereavement
  • Social relationships between the living and the dead
  • Informal social networks (online and offline) at the end of life




Walter, T., 2017. What Death Means Now:Thinking Critically About Dying and Grieving. Policy Press. (Shorts Insights)

Walter, J. and Kralova, J., eds., 2017. Social Death:Questioning the life-death boundary. Routledge.

Book Sections

Arnold, J. C. and Walter, J., 2018. Angels. In: Christopher, M., ed. The Routledge Companion to Death and Dying. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 352-361.

Walter, J., 2017. Forthcoming. How continuing bonds have been framed across millennia. In: Klass, D. and Steffen, E. M., eds. Continuing Bonds in Bereavement. London, U. K.: Routledge.

Walter, T., 2017. How the dead survive:Ancestors, immortality, memory. In: Hviid Jacobsen, M., ed. Postmortal Society: Towards a Sociology of Immortality. London, U. K.: Routledge, pp. 19-39.

Walter, J., 2017. How the Dead Survive:Ancestor, Immortality, Memory. In: Jacobsen, M. H., ed. Postmortal Society. London: Routledge, pp. 19-39. (Studies in Death, Materiality and the Origin of Time)

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., 2015. Secularisation. In: Parkes, C. M., Laungani, P. and Young, W., eds. Death and Bereavement Across Cultures, (2nd ed.). Abingdon, U. K.: Routledge, pp. 133-148.

Walter, T., 2015. Imag(in)ing the Dead as Angels. In: Malady and Mortality. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Walter, T., 2014. Sociological Perspectives. In: Stillion, J. M. and Attig, T., eds. Death, Dying and Bereavement. Springer.

Walter, J., 2013. Eighteen ways to view a dead body. In: Venbrux, E., Quartier, T., Vernhorst, C. and Mathijssen, B., eds. Changing European Death Ways. Zurich: Lit Verlag, pp. 71-84.

Gittings, C. and Walter, T., 2010. Rest in peace? Burial on private land. In: Sidaway, J. and Maddrell, A., eds. Deathscapes: Spaces For Death Dying And Bereavement. Aldershot: Ashgate.

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. Mediator deathwork. In: Gunaratnam, Y. and Oliviere, D., eds. Narrative and Stories in Health Care. Oxford, U. K.: Oxford University Press, pp. 143-158.

Walter, T., 2009. Communicating with the dead. In: Bryant, C. and Peck, D., eds. Encyclopedia of Death and the Human Experience.Vol. 1. London: Sage, pp. 216-219.

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., 2009. La Visibilité des Morts dans la Société Moderne. In: Proceedings of the Dying and Death in 18th - 21st century Europe International Conference. Cluj-Napoca: Accent, pp. 11-18.

Walter, T., 2009. Mediator deathwork 1. In: Gunaratnam, Y. and Oliviere, D., eds. Narrative and Stories in Health Care: Illness, dying and bereavement. Oxford University Press.

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.

Walter, T., 2006. Disaster, modernity, and the media. In: Death and Religion in a Changing World. Armonk, N.Y.: M. E. Sharpe, pp. 265-282.

Walter, T., 2006. Funerals: the emerging culture of choice. In: A Good Funeral.Vol. 14. Solihull: Foundation of Lady Katherine Leveson, pp. 4-10. (Leveson Papers)

Walter, T., 2002. Entries on: Burial, Cremation, Funeral. In: Carr, W., ed. The New Dictionary of Pastoral Studies. London: SPCK.

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., 2001. Entries on Sociology, Pilgrimage. In: Leaman, O. and Howarth, G., eds. Encyclopedia of Death and Dying. London: Routledge.

Walter, T., 2001. Funeral practices: cultural variation. In: Blakemore, C. and Jennett, S., eds. The Oxford Companion to the Body. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Walter, T., 2001. I funerali alla svolta del millennio. In: Sozzi, M., ed. La Scena degli Addii: Morte e Riti Funebri Nella Società Occidentale Contemporanea. Torino: Paravia Scriptorium, pp. 37-42.

Walter, T., 2001. Mourning. In: Michie, J., ed. Reader's Guide to the Social Sciences. London: Fitzroy Dearborn.

Davie, G. and Walter, T., 2001. Women's Religiosity. In: Smelser, N. J. and Baltes, P. B., eds. International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences. Elsevier, pp. 16532-16534.


McManus, R., Walter, J. and Claridge, L., 2017. Forthcoming. Restoration and Loss after Disaster:Applying the Dual Process Model of Coping in Bereavement. Death Studies

Walter, J., 2017. Promote, oppose, accommodate or compensate?:Four ways religion can interact with society’s death practices. Bereavement Care, 36 (1), pp. 19-24.

Walter, J. and Jonsson, A., 2017. Continuing bonds and place. Death Studies

Walter, T., 2017. Bodies and Ceremonies:Is the UK funeral industry still fit for purpose? Mortality, 22 (3), pp. 194-208.

Jones, K., Birchley, G., Huxtable, R., Clare, L., Walter, J. and Dixon, J., 2016. End of life care: A scoping review of experiences of Advance Care Planning for people with dementia. Dementia: the international journal of social research and practice

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.

Bailey, T. and Walter, T., 2016. Funerals against death. Mortality, 21 (2), pp. 149-166.

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.

Brown, L. and Walter, T., 2014. Towards a social model of end of life care. British Journal of Social Work, 44 (8), pp. 2375-2390.

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, J. A., 2014. On death and media. Thanatos, 2 (2).

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.

Walter, T., 2010. Grief and culture: a checklist. Bereavement Care, 29 (2), pp. 5-9.

Walter, T., 2009. Jade's dying body: the ultimate reality show. Sociological Research Online, 14 (5).

Gittings, C. and Walter, T., 2009. Garden burial:Resting in peace? Funeral Director Monthly, 92 (10), pp. 26-27.

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. Grief and the Separation of Home and Work. Death Studies, 33 (5), pp. 402-410.

Walter, T., 2009. Eating and drinking:After the funeral, or before? Funeral Director Monthly, 92 (9), pp. 58-59.

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. Death in Britain Today. Self and Society, 36 (2), pp. 9-16.

Walter, T., 2008. Mourners and mediums. Bereavement Care, 27 (3), pp. 47-50.

Walter, T., 2008. Sociology of death. Sociology Compass, 2 (1), pp. 317-336.

Walter, T., 2008. To see for myself: informed consent and the culture of openness. Journal of Medical Ethics, 34 (9), pp. 675-678.

Walter, T., 2007. Modern grief, postmodern grief. International Review of Sociology, 17 (1), pp. 123-134.

Walter, T., 2007. Mourners and mediums. Theology, 110 (854), pp. 92-100.

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.

Walter, T., 2005. Mediator deathwork. Death Studies, 29 (5), pp. 383-412.

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.

Waterhouse, H. and Walter, T., 2003. Reincarnation belief and the Christian church. Theology, 106 (829), pp. 20-28.

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.

Walter, T., 2001. Reincarnation, modernity and identity. Sociology-the Journal of the British Sociological Association, 35 (1), pp. 21-38.

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., 2000. Bereavement, biography and commemoration. Social History in Museums: Journal of the Social History Curators Group, 25, pp. 9-16.


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, J. A., 2013. Bereavement following drug/alcohol addiction. In: Cruse Bereavement Care Conference, 2013-07-08 - 2013-07-08.

Walter, T., 2009. Burial - The Wider View. In: Bathwick Local History Society, 2009-11-09.

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. Between the Living and the Dead. In: Invited Seminar Paper, 2008-01-24.

Walter, T., 2009. Figuring and Refiguring Death Rites: National variations. In: Refiguring Death Rites Research Group, 2009-06-15.

Walter, T., 2009. Jade's Dying. In: Envisaging Death: Visual Culture and Dying, Interdisciplinary Conference, 2009-06-26.

Walter, T., 2009. Panelist: 'What Are We Afraid Of?'. In: Café of Ideas, 2009-06-18.

Walter, T., 2008. Celebratory Funerals. In: Talk to the Bournemouth humanists, 2008-11-08.

Walter, T., 2008. Committal Matters. In: Institute of Civil Funerals Annual Conference, 2008-04-24 - 2008-04-25.

Walter, T., 2008. Funerals - the missing link in palliative care. In: Day Workshop, 2008-03-03.

Walter, T., 2008. The Ethics of BodyWorlds. In: Invited speech, 2008-03-18.

Walter, T., 2008. Landscapes of Death in the Modern West. In: Institute of Archaeology & Antiquity, 2008-01-16.

Non-academic press

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

This list was generated on Thu Aug 17 00:40:32 2017 IST.

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