Dr Matthew Spokes

Course Lead and Senior Lecturer in Sociology

School of Psychological & Social Sciences

E: m.spokes@yorksj.ac.uk

T: 87 6279

Matt Spokes

PhD in Sociology from the University of York
MA in Conflict, Governance and Development from the University of York
BA (Hons) in Politics and Sociology of Contemporary Culture


I am the course leader for Sociology, as well as lecturing on death and mortality, social theory and spatial sociology. My background is pretty diverse, starting with an undergraduate degree in Politics and Sociology from the University of East Anglia (2005) followed by a Master’s degree in Conflict, Governance and Development from the University of York (2007). I had a few years out to save for my PhD (working as a painter and decorator, then running an unsuccessful record label) before re-joining the University of York to start my PhD in Sociology in 2010. I worked as an Associate Lecturer at York from 2013 until 2016 when I joined York St John University. My main areas of interest are popular culture, social/spatial theory and death.

Further Information


3SC001 – Advanced Social Theory
3SC002 – Sociological Investigations (dissertation)
3SC008 – Spatial Sociology (with Dr. Jack Denham and Dr. Tyson Mitman)
3SC010 – Death and Mortality (with Dr. Jack Denham)


My research activity is clustered around popular culture, social/spatial theory and death (I have also previously written on music and class as well), with a particular interest in interactive entertainment. I have recently completed a co-authored book on death, memorialization and deviant spaces which experiments with Lefebvre’s spatial triad in an effort towards developing a conceptual toolbox for studying dark tourism and difficult heritage. I am also working with Dr. Jack Denham on a series of papers around the rationalization of subjective violence in gaming culture and innovative methodological approaches to what we are calling ‘interactive elicitation’. I have recently completed a piece on procedural rhetoric and depictions of North Korea in first-person shooters. My earlier work includes a paper on the intersectional nature of being a working class academic, as well as a paper on how death is dialogically mediated in relation to video game experiences.




Spokes, M., Denham, J., and Lehmann, B. (2018) Death, memorialization and deviant spaces. Emerald Publishing. Part of the Death and Culture series (forthcoming, Sept 2018)

Gaming and the Virtual Sublime. Emerald Publishing. Forthcoming (March 2020)

Journal Articles:

Spokes, M (2017). “War…war never changes”: exploring explicit and implicit encounters with death in a post-apocalyptic gameworld. In Mortality. Vol 23 Issue 2

Spokes, M (2017). Class and narrative accrual: personal troubles and private issues in five vignettes. In The Journal of Working Class Studies, Vol 2 Issue 2

Spokes, M. and Denham, J. (2019) Developing Interactive Elicitation: Social Desirability Bias and Capturing Play. In The Qualitative Report (in press)

Spokes, M., (2019) The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Procedural Rhetoric and the Military Entertainment Complex: Two Case Studies from the War on Terror. In Media, War and Conflict. Online advance publication

Denham, J., and Spokes, M., (2018) Thinking Outside the ‘Murder Box’: Virtual Violence and Pro-Social Action in Video Games. In The British Journal of Criminology. Online advance publication


Using Gramsci: A New Approach by Michele Filippini. In Cultural Sociology Vol 12. Issue 1. 

The Music Industry: Music in the Cloud (DMS Digital Music and Society) by Patrik Wikstrom. In Information, Communication and Society.


‘“War. War Never Changes.” Exploring death narratives with skeletons in a post-apocalyptic gameworld’ at the Death and Culture Conference, York Sept 2016

‘Dealing with Dirty Data: Four Years in Beers’ at Departmental Seminar Series, November 2015

‘“Persistent Repetition of Phrases”: Left Melancholy and the rhetoric of sound’ at the ISRF-ReCCS Critique and Critiques workshop, May 2014.

‘“I Dream of Wires”: Collaboration, Co-operation and Modular Synthesis’ at Departmental Seminar Series (invited speaker), March 2014.

‘Navigating the archive: Memory and resistance in contemporary avant-garde practice’ at the Music and Meaning Symposium (invited speaker), University of York, November 2012.

‘Cultural Resistance and Contemporary Avant-garde Practice’ at the Envisioning the Future of Social Science Postgraduate Conference, University of York, April 2012.

Professional Activities / Membership

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

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