Professor Alan Walker

BA, DLitt, Hon DSocSc (HKBU), FBA, FRSA, FAcSS

Department of Sociological Studies

Professor of Social Policy and Social Gerontology

Previously Director of the New Dynamics of Ageing Programme


Professor Alan Walker
+44 114 222 6466

Full contact details

Professor Alan Walker
Department of Sociological Studies
Elmfield Building
Northumberland Road
S10 2TU

Alan Walker joined the Department in 1977 and was a Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Reader in Social Policy. He was appointed Professor of Social Policy in 1985 and was Head of Department from 1988 to 1996.

He directed the £22 million New Dynamics of Ageing Research Programme funded by five UK Research Councils (2005-15), the £6.5 million Mobilising the Potential of Active Ageing in Europe (2013-17) and the £3.5 million ESRC Growing Older Programme (1999-2004).

Previously he directed the UK National Collaboration on Ageing Research, the European Research Area in Ageing and several large European projects, including FUTURAGE which set out a road map for the future of ageing research.

He supervises postgraduate students and has more than 50 successful completions. He was previously Research Director for the Social Sciences Faculty.

He has held many official advisory positions and is currently a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Longevity's Strategic Advisory Board.

Research interests

Alan's research interests span a wide range in social analysis, social policy and social planning. He is a specialist in social gerontology and, with two colleagues in the Netherlands, is responsible for developing the concept of social quality and he Chairs the European Foundation on Social Quality, which is based in Amsterdam.

Currently he directs the New Dynamics of Ageing Research Programme funded by five Research Councils. He has published more than 30 books, over 200 reports and more than 300 papers in scholarly journals and edited volumes. His work has been published in more than 20 languages.

He is a founding Academician of the Academy for Learned Societies in the Social Sciences, and, in 2007, was given lifetime achievement awards by both the British Society of Gerontology and the Social Policy Association.

He has been active in the UK voluntary sector for many years and co-founded the Disability Alliance in 1974. He is currently Patron of the National Pensioner's Convention.

Research topics

Quality of later life
  • Director of the ESRC Growing Older Research Programme on Extending Quality Life (1999-2004).
  • The twin objectives of the programme were to establish a broad-based multidisciplinary and co-ordinated research programme designed to generate new knowledge on the extension of quality life; and to contribute to the development of policies and practices in the field and, thereby, help to extend quality life.
  • The research topics covered by the programme were defining and measuring quality of life; inequalities in quality of life, the role of technology and the built environment, healthy and productive ageing, family and support networks and participation and activity in later life.
Developing multi-disciplinary research on ageing
  • Director of the New Dynamics of Ageing Research Programme (2005-2015)
  • This multi-disciplinary research programme is sponsored by the ESRC, EPSRC, BBSRC, MRC and AHRC. For further information see
Developing European collaboration in ageing research
  • Director of the European Forum on Population Ageing Research (2002-2004)
  • Director of FUTURAGE: The European Road Map for Ageing Research (2009-2011).
  • For further information see
  • Director of the European Research Area in Ageing (2004 - 2012)
  • For further information see
  • Director of the UK National Collaboration on Ageing Research (2000-2004)
  • The objectives of the NCAR were to stimulate new multi-disciplinary research groups in the field of ageing; to develop a new cross-Research Council approach to research on ageing with an explicit interdisciplinary theme; to encourage stronger links between research and policy and practice in the ageing field; and to develop the European dimension of ageing research in the UK.
Comparative research on social policy

This mainly focusses on the welfare regimes of the Member States of the European Union and the social policy competencies of the European Commission. Convenor of the European Social Policy Research Network formed under the European Sociological Association and co-founder of ESPAnet.

Development and testing the concept of 'social quality'
  • This is designed to provide an independent rationale for social policy in Europe. The concept comprises social inclusion/exclusion, social cohesion/anomie, socio-economic security/insecurity, and social empowerment/subordination.
  • A European Foundation exists to co-ordinate this work, with members in all EU countries and with links to the European Commission. Chair of this European Foundation on Social Quality which is based in Amsterdam.
  • For further information see
Social gerontology
  • This research covers a broad field and includes theoretical work on the social construction of old age and the relationship between ageing and welfare/social policy.
    • empirical research on the social relationships of old age
    • attitudes towards ageing and socio-economic security in old age
    • policy evaluations in the areas of pensions and long term care and comparative research on the impact of societal ageing in both Europe and East Asia and the politics of old age.
Age and employement
  • This research covers the impact of ageing workforces, age discrimination in the labour market, labour market policies on older workers, employers' responses to workforce ageing and good practice in the employment of older workers.
  • I was responsible for the first European research of actions to overcome age barriers in employment, covering seven EU countries and have co-led the development of a European Code of Good Practice on age and employment.
Chinese and East Asian welfare
  • This is a long-standing interest in the welfare systems of East Asia and China - including many PhD students from Hong Kong, China, Japan and Taiwan - and the Confucian, family oriented, ideology.
  • This research includes comparative work on models of welfare east and west.
Older people with learning difficulties/ intellectual disabilities and their carers

Having conducted (with Carol Walker) the first major study in the UK on older people with learning difficulties, this represents on ongoing research programme covering the distribution of health and social services, user involvement, human rights, the principle of normalisation and the problems encountered by older carers.

Social exclusion/ inclusion
  • This is a long-standing interest in poverty and inequality, which has recently been amalgamated into the research on social quality (see above).
  • Research concentrates on the dimensions of social exclusion, measuring exclusion and its impact, the meaning of poverty and the lives of those experiencing it.
  • This research includes European and local community dimensions.

This research is largely subsumed under that on social quality and social gerontology but also includes a general interest in ideas of empowerment and the mechanisms by which citizens can be involved actively in decision making and research.

Intergenerational relations

As well as general interests in social policy and ageing there are specific interests in relations between the generations both at a macro level (the social contract) and, at a micro level, within families.



  • (2019) The Future of Ageing in Europe. Springer Singapore. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Walker A (2018) The new dynamics of ageing. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Walker A (2018) Preface. RIS download Bibtex download
  • (2017) Preface. IEEE. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Walker A (2014) Foreword. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Maesen LJGVD & Walker A (2012) Social Quality: From Theory to Indicators. Palgrave Macmillan. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Walker A, Sinfield A & Walker C (2011) Fighting poverty, inequality and injustice: A manifesto inspired by Peter Townsend. RIS download Bibtex download
  • (2010) Preface. IEEE. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Walker A & Naegele G (2009) Social Policy in Ageing Societies: Britain and Germany Compared. Palgrave MacMillan. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Walker A & Aspalter C (2008) Securing the Future for Old Age in Europe. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Walker A & Chack-Kie W (2005) Preface. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Walker A & Chack-Kie W (2005) East Asian welfare regimes in transition: From confucianism to globalisation. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Qureshi H & Walker A (1989) The Caring Relationship. Macmillan Education UK. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Walker A (1982) Unqualified and Underemployed. Macmillan Education UK. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Walker A () Introduction. Bristol University Press. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Walker A () Foreword. Bristol University Press. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Walker A () Foreword. Bristol University Press. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Minichiello V () Contemporary Issues in Gerontology. Routledge. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Walker A, Sinfield A & Walker C () Preface. Bristol University Press. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Walker A & Wong C-K () Preface. Bristol University Press. RIS download Bibtex download

Edited books

  • Ebury K & Fraser J (Ed.) (2018) Joyce’s Non-Fiction Writings: 'Outside His Jurisfiction'. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Foster L & Woodthorpe K (Ed.) (2016) Death and Social Policy in Challenging Times. Palgrave Macmillan. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Walker AC & Wang L (Ed.) (2015) Comparative Social Quality Between Taiwan and Korea. Tapei: National Taiwan University Press. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Walker A & Aspalter C (Ed.) (2014) Active Ageing in Asia. Oxford: Routledge. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Walker A (Ed.) (2014) The New Science of Ageing. Policy Press. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Walker A & Foster L (Ed.) (2014) The Political Economy of Ageing and Later Life: Critical Perspectives. Edward Elgar Publishing. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Walker A, Sinfield A & Walker C (Eds.) (2011) Fighting Poverty, Inequality and Injustice. Policy Press. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Walker A & Van Der Maesen L (Ed.) (2011) Social Quality: From Theory to Indicators. Palgrave Macmillan. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Walker A, Gordon D, Levitas R, Phillimore P, Phillipson C, Salomon M & Yeates N (Eds.) (2010) The Peter Townsend Reader. Policy Press. RIS download Bibtex download

Journal articles


Conference proceedings papers

  • Walker A (2019) Evaluating the National Pension for Salary Earners and the Self-Employed (pp 233-247) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Taylor P & Walker A (2003) Age discrimination in the labour market and policy responses: The situation in the United Kingdom. GENEVA PAPERS ON RISK AND INSURANCE-ISSUES AND PRACTICE, Vol. 28(4) (pp 612-624) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Walker A (1998) Age and Employment. Australasian Journal on Ageing, Vol. 17 (pp 99-103) RIS download Bibtex download
Research group

At the present time, Alan Walker's teaching concentrates on postgraduate research students. He is one of the UK's most experienced postgraduate research supervisors in the fields of sociology, social policy and social gerontology, with more than 50 successful PhD completion's (a 100% completion record).

He would welcome applications from potential postgraduates interested in any of the topics contained in his research section.

Doctoral Students Supervised:

  • Celia Briar, Women in State Employment Policy 1905-1986 (1986).
  • Tim Blackman, Social Indicators (1987).
  • Sammy Chiu, Family Care of Chinese Older People in Britain and Hong Kong (1988).
  • Simon Goodwin, Community Care: The Reforms of Mental Health Services (1988).
  • Steve Nesbitt, Social And Economic Determinants of British Pensions Policy (1991).
  • C K Wong, Ideology, Welfare Mix and the Production of Welfare (1991).
  • Monica Dowling, Social Work and Poverty, Attitudes and Actions (1993).
  • Tony Maltby, Women,Pensions and Social Dependency in Britain and Hungary 1945-1990 (1993).
  • Sandra Shaw, Women and Lone Parenthood (1994).
  • Wai-Kam (Sam) Yu, The Response of the Hong Kong Government to the Decommodifying Effects of Public Housing Services 1950 to 1990 (1994).
  • Victor Wong, The Politics of Medical Fees in Hong Kong (1995).
  • Chack Kwan Chan, Colonial Rule, Chinese Welfare Ideologies and the Reproduction of Social Policy -The Case of Social Security in Hong Kong (1996).
  • Fwu Yuan Weng, Post-war Education Policy in Taiwan (1996).
  • Chris Crowther, The 'Underclass' Debate: The Police Policy Process and the Social Construction of Order (1997).
  • Makoto Kono, The Welfare Mix in the Care of Older People in Japan (1997).
  • Ngai Ngan Pun, Youth Policy in China (1997).
  • Ian Brown, Community Participation and General Practice (1998).
  • Vashti Gosling, Services for People with Learning Difficulties (1999).
  • Ruby Chau, The Welfare Mix in Socialist China: A Case Study of Occupational Therapy Stations in Guangzhou (2000).
  • Alvin Kwok, Making Sense of Social Networks: Voices of Older Persons Living in Public Housing in Hong Kong (2000).
  • Karen Ling, Breaking the Silence: The Experiences of Disabled Women in a Chinese Culture (2000).
  • Tetsuo Ogawa, Decentralisation and Diversity in the Delivery of Social Care Services for Older People in Japan (2000).
  • Vincent Wijeysingha, Political Economy of State Social Policies in Singapore (2001).
  • Ping Kwong Kam, Powerlessness Among Older People in Hong Kong (2002).
  • Heung Sang Lam, Family Care for Older People in China (2002).
  • Sen Gong, The State and Pension Policy Instability in the People's Republic of China (2003).
  • Mark Li, Social Movements in Hong Kong from 1991 to 1997: Implications for Civil Society (2003).
  • Mike Williams, Public Participation, Influence and Democracy: A Study of the Sheffield Better Government for Older People Pilot (2003).
  • Victoria Gosling, Women's Experiences of Social Exclusion and Regeneration on a Sheffield Estate (2004).
  • Michiko Yamada, The Establishment of LTC Insurance and the Social Care Service System for Older People in Japan (2004).
  • Mohammed Al-Shabani, Active Ageing and Retiree Participation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (2005).
  • Ying Hong, Business Ethics in Transitional China - the Case of Jiangsu Province (2006).
  • Liam Foster, Gender, the Life Course and Pension Provision in the United Kingdom (2006).
  • Jeeyeon Kim, Confucian Values, Patriarchy and Women’s Computer Mediated Communication (2006).
  • Jill Edwards, The Life Experience of Adults with Cystic Fibrosis (2007).
  • Alison Hill, Care in the Context of Later Life Marriages (2007).
  • Erica Uusitalo, Empirical Exploration of the Theory and Methods of Social Quality (2008).
  • Chang Lyal Fung, A Political Economy of Korean Pension Reform (2009).
  • Florence Fong, Intergenerational Relations and the Care of Older People in Hong Kong (2009).
  • Sarah Swann, A Study of Pupil Disaffection (2009).
  • Tony Song, A Political Economy of Civil Service Pension Reform in Korea (2010).Lei Jie, China’s Welfare Regime 1949-2011 (2011).
  • Franklen Choi, A Political Economy of Adult Vocational Education in Hong Kong (2012).
  • Byeong Hee Kwon, Active Ageing in South Korea (2013).
  • Steve Corbett, The Social Quality of Participatory Democracy (2014).
  • Albert Varela Montane, A Conceptual and Empirical Exploration of Social Exclusion (2014).
  • Sarah Alden, At the Coalface: the Role of the Street Level Bureaucrat in Provision of Statutory Services to Older People Affected by Homelessness (2015).
  • Natalija Jarosenko, In-Work Poverty In Lithuania: Causes And Consequences (2016).
  • Matthew Wargent, Democratic Participation and Agonism: Citizen Perspectives on Participatory Spaces Created Under the Localism Act 2011 (2017).
  • Ming-lun Chung, A Study of School Anti-Bullying Policy on Taiwan (2017).
  • Katey Twyford, People with Dementia Living in Extra Care Housing (2018).
  • George Pavlidis, Social and Behavioural Factors Associated with Cognitive and Functional Performance in Cognitively Health Adults (2018).
  • Tat Chor Au-Yeung A Political Economy of In-work Benefits in Hong Kong (2018).
  • David Clayton Loneliness and New Technologies in Later Life (2019).

M. Phils:

  • Susan Higham, Attitudes Towards the Receipt of Statutory Services: Older People and Professionals (1994).
  • Monika Husemann, 'Nobody Really Understands', Family Carers of People with Dementia (1999).
  • Neus Torres Tubau, Socio-demographic Change and the Care of Older People in Spain (2011).
  • Kyung Hun Kim, Poverty in Old Age in Korea (2014).

Current PhD topics include:

  • Migration and Social Security in China
  • Family Care of Older People in Iran
  • Minimum Wages and Older Workers in Korea
  • Social Precarity and Social Welfare
  • Participatory Development in Malaysia
  • The Development of Social Work in China
  • New Technologies and Ageing
  • Women and Ageing in Thailand
  • Social Protection in Nigeria
Image of Alan's East Asian Doctoral Students, past and present in Hong Kong 2006.

Gathering of Alan's East Asian Doctoral Students, past and present in Hong Kong,16 November 2006. L to R, Back Row: Kam Ping Kwong, Tetsuo Ogawa, Edward Leung, Ngai Ngan Pun, Sam Yu, Alvin Kwok, Lam Heung Sang, William Wong, Simon Wu, Franklen Choi. Front Row: Victor Wong, C K Wong, Sammy Chiu, Carol Walker, Alan Walker, Karen Ngai, Ruby Chau. 

Professional activities
  • Visiting Professorships in Canada (1988), China (Hong Kong) (1992, 1996, 2005, 2006, 2009), Israel (1988) and Japan (1994, 1995).
  • Founding Academician of the Academy of Learned Societies for the Social Sciences, 1999.
  • Co-recipient of Queen's Prize for Higher and Further Education (for research on ageing) 2002.
  • Vincent Woo Distinquished Scholar, Lingnan University, Hong Kong, 2005.
  • Honorary Doctor of Social Sciences, Baptist University of Hong Kong, 2006.
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Social Policy Association, 2007.
  • First Outstanding Achievement Award, British Society of Gerontology, 2007.
  • First IAGG European Region Medal for Advances in Gerontology and Geriatrics in the Social and Behavioural Sciences, 2011.
  • Fellow of the British Academy, 2011.
  • First ESRC Impact Champion, 2013.
  • Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America (2016 –).
  • Appointed Distinguished Visiting Professor in the School of Arts and Social Sciences, The Open University of Hong Kong, 2019.
Alan Walker shaking hands with the Queen having received the Third Queen's Anniversary Prize

Receiving the Queen's Anniversary prize 2002

Alan Walker having dinner with the Department of Social Work at Hong Kong Baptist University during his time as a visiting professor

From the farewell dinner at the Happy Seafood Restaurant, Lei Yue Mun, Kowloon, with members of the Department of Social Work at Hong Kong Baptist University during my period as a visiting professor, March 2009.

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