The revival of death: expression, expertise and governmentality

Arnar Arnason, S. B. Hafsteinsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


This paper discusses Walter's (1994) assertion that death in the West has recently undergone a revival. In particular it focuses on his claim that this revival is composed of two different strands: a late modern strand and a postmodern strand. The former, according to Walter, is driven by experts who seek to control death, the latter by ordinary people who seek to express their emotions freely. Describing the history and work of Cruse Bereavement Care, the largest bereavement counselling organization in the UK, we question Walter's distinction. We then problematize Walter's suggestion that the revival of death is caused by general social transformations. In contrast we evoke Rose's (1996) work on 'subjectification' and seek to link recent changes in the management of death and grief to permutations in governmental rationality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-62
Number of pages19
JournalThe British Journal of Sociology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2003


  • death
  • grief
  • governmentality
  • counselling
  • Britain


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