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Death in the Modern World

Death in the Modern World

  • Tony Walter - Centre for Death and Society, University of Bath.

February 2020 | 312 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Death comes to all humans, but how death is managed, symbolised and experienced varies widely, not only between individuals but also between groups. What then shapes how a society manages death, dying and bereavement today? Are all modern countries similar? How important are culture, the physical environment, national histories, national laws and institutions, and globalization? This is the first book to look at how all these different factors shape death and dying in the modern world.

Written by an internationally renowned scholar in death studies, and drawing on examples from around the world, including the UK, USA, China and Japan, The Netherlands, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. This book investigates how key factors such as money, communication technologies, the family, religion, and war, interact in complex ways to shape people’s experiences of dying and grief.

Essential reading for students, researchers and professionals across sociology, anthropology, social work and healthcare, and for anyone who wants to understand how countries around the world manage death and dying.

1. Longevity
2. Medicine
3. Commodification
4. Communication
5. Death denial?
6. Security and insecurity
7. The physical world
8. Individual and group
9. Family
10. Religion
11. Modernizing the nation
12. War
13. Policy and politics
14. Global flows
15. Death’s futures

Tony Walter has written a highly recommendable book dealing with our society’s continuous wrestling with the difficult topic of death. In a captivating, convincing and accessible manner, Walter shows how our way of ‘doing’ and dealing with death is impacted by changes in the many different conditions that shape our lives.

Michael Hviid Jacobsen
Professor of Sociology at Aalborg University.

Death today is different from what it has been for all but a few hundred years of humanity’s 250,000 years on our planet, and different even from what it was at the beginning of the 20th century. Yet it is not the same everywhere. In this excellent book, Tony Walter describes death and its meanings in the modern world. He first discusses the factors that play on everyone living in advanced industrial and post-industrial economies. Then he turns to showing how cultures and nations build on their unique roots and how they change in response to wars, medical technologies, economic inequalities, globalization, and new communications media. Walter’s thesis is complex, but he explains it in a clear, nuanced style that is a pleasure to read. Examples guide beginners, while interesting excursuses will appeal to the most seasoned scholars and clinicians. The book will make a good course text; at the same time, all academics and professionals who claim any expertise in death or grief will learn from it.

Dennis Klass
Professor Emeritus, Webster University, Missouri, USA.

Bringing together a wider range of resources and contexts, Tony Walter’s “Death in the Modern World” offers a refreshing account of the variable effects of modernity on death ways.
Stepping the reader through social factors  (like money, war and religion) that shape the organisation and experience of dying and loss, Walter shows his hand as a longstanding leader in the field of death studies. 

Ruth McManus
University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Challenges students to consider key factors that impact on the experiences of death and loss prompting reflection on professional practice.

Ms Clair Rees
Health, Social and Childcare, Neath Port Talbot College
October 12, 2020

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