Professor Steve Matthewman


Research | Current

  • Sociology of disasters
  • Introductory sociology
  • Science and technology studies
  • Social theory

My current research project is the three-year Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden-funded work ‘Power Politics: Electricity and Sustainability in Post-Disaster Ōtautahi (Christchurch)’ with Hugh Byrd (Unitec) and Christine Kenney (Massey University). We interpret Christchurch as a laboratory for an urban world facing unprecedented environmental pressures. The broad focus of this research is on how we build sustainability into the city. The narrow focus is on the place of renewable energy in this process. A major part of this work involves considering the barriers to "building back better". Among other things, I am interested in the politics of built form, the sociology of energy and infrastructures, and the sociology of disasters.

Teaching | Current

SOCIOL 100 Issues and Themes in Sociology

Postgraduate supervision

Doctoral theses

  • The Nexus of Disaster , Social Remittance, and Social Resilience: Evidence from the Response and Recovery Process of Nepal Earthquake 2015
  • The Role of Contemporary Technology in Understanding Addiction and Recovery
  • Hunger on Campus? Examining the Socio-structural Determinats of Food Insecurity in Aotearoa New Zealand 
  • The Future of Urban Housing in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland: Colonial Capitalist Planning and its Alternative
  • Logistics, Circulation, Resistance
  • Education and Truth
  • Everyday Struggle: Class Division & Precarious Work and Life in Aotearoa/ New Zealand.
  • Researching Middle-class Consumption in Bangladesh: Contextualising a Postcolonial Moral Economy
  • Financialisation, Culture and Late Modernity: A Genealogy of ‘Too Big to Fail’.
  • Social Vulnerability in Disasters: Immigrants, Linguistic Minorities and Refugess in Christchurch and Tohoku. University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship
  • Green Buildings: Performance and Productivity. Co-supervision with the School of Architecture
  • Does Organisational Form and Function make a Difference to the Equitable Delivery of Services? An Enquiry into the Equity Performance of Public Hospitals in New Zealand under Changing Welfare State Arrangements. University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship
  • Claiming the Century: The Promise of Social Movements in the Twenty-First Century. University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship. Vice Chancellor's Prize for Best Thesis
  • Pākehā Politics, Identity and Belonging: A Study of Settler Colonial Whiteness.New Zealand International Doctoral Research Scholarship
  • Assessing Student Capacity, Networks, and Career Expectations Among Undergraduate Students at The University of Auckland. University of Auckland International Doctoral Bursary
  • The Emergence of Computer Ethics in New Zealand
  • Foundations and Formation of Hapahaole Identity
  • The Role of the Internet in Strengthening Maori Identity
  • E.P. Thompson’s Poverty of Theory in Sociological Perspective
  • The Sociology of Computing

Masters theses

  • Factors that Affect Disaster Recovery Post-Christchurch Earthquakes
  • Energy Planning in New Zealand
  • Interactive Media as Architecture of Control?
  • Risk Society Revisited
  • The Death of Utopia
  • Stuck  Fast: A Critical Analysis of the “New Mobilities Paradigm, Winner of the Roger Oppenheim Memorial Prize for the Best Thesis in 2011
  • Grey Area: The Social Forces that Shape New Zealand’s Rest Home Industry, Winner of the Roger Oppenheim Memorial Prize for the Best Thesis in 2009
  • Personal Journaling Online or “Blogging” and its Perceived Effects on Relationships and Self: A Cross-National Study
  • Visualizing Evil: How the Holocaust is Remembered and Represented
  • The Sociology of Modern Weaponry on the Western Front, 1914-1918
  • Cybermen in Cyberspace: Gay Men HIV, Risk, Identity and the Internet
  • Origins of The 'New Economy'
  • Fears and Dreams of Utopia: The Technophobe vs the Technofile, Towards a Middle Ground

Directed study

  • You Give Me Fever: The Production of Vulnerability to Rheumatic Fever in Aotearoa New Zealand 
  • Thinking About Things: Actor-Network Theory and its Prehistory

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Recent Conferences and Invited Papers:

2019. KAISER, L.H., KENNEY, C.M., PHIBBS, S., MATTHEWMAN, S. and BYRD, H. ‘Disaster Risk Mitigation Insights for Global Contexts: Indigenous Mediation of Risks to Māori Communities in New Zealand’, Ignite: UN Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction, Geneva, Switzerland, 13-17 May.

2019: BYRD, H. and MATTHEWMAN, S. ‘Rebuilding Christchurch's Infrastructure: An Analysis of Political Mismanagement’, ICDEM 2019: 21st International Conference on Disaster and Emergency Management, Rome, Italy, March 5-6

2018: MATTHEWMAN, S. ‘Re-energizing Christchurch: A Sociological Take on the Rebuild’, The Future in the Past, the Sociological Association of Aotearoa New Zealand annual conference, Victoria University of Wellington, 4-7 December.

2018: MATTHEWMAN, S. and MACARTHUR, J. (2018) ‘Populist Resistance and Alternative Transitions: Indigenous Ownership of Energy Infrastructure in Aotearoa New Zealand’, Precarity, Rights and Resistance, The Australian Sociology Association Conference, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia, 19-22 November.

2018: MATTHEWMAN, S., BYRD, H. and KENNEY, C. (2018) ‘Building Back Better? Observations on the Christchurch Rebuild’, Precarity, Rights and Resistance, The Australian Sociology Association Conference, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia, 19-22 November.

2018: MATTHEWMAN, S. and UEKUSA, S. ‘Theorising Disaster Communitas’, Association of Pacific Rim Universities 14th Multi-Hazards Symposium, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, 21 - 24 October.

2018: MATTHEWMAN, S., BYRD, H. and KENNEY, C. ‘Infrastructuring in the Shaky Isles: Building Back Christchurch, New Zealand’, (em)Powering Mobilities, Centre for Mobilities and Urban Studies C-MUS 10th anniversary conference, Aalborg University, Denmark, 29-30 August.

2018: MACARTHUR, J. and MATTHEWMAN, S. ‘Populist Resistance and Alternative Transitions: Indigenous Ownership of Energy Infrastructure in Aotearoa New Zealand’, Session on: Sustainable Energy Transformation in an Age of Post-truth Politics, Protectionism, Populism, and Local Resistance, International Political Studies Association 25th World Congress, Brisbane, Australia, 21-25 July.

2018: BYRD, H., MATTHEWMAN, S. and KENNEY, C. ‘The Impact of Disruptive Technologies on Future Urban Form in NZ Cities’, Urbanism New Zealand Conference, Wellington, 14-15 May.

2017: ‘The Infrastructural Turn: What is it and why is it Happening Now?’ Respect Existence or Expect Resistance, Sociological Association of Aotearoa New Zealand annual conference, University of Otago, Dunedin, 6-10 December.

2017: ‘Infrastructuring: World-Building on an Urban Planet’, Belonging in a Mobile World, The Australian Sociology Association Conference, The University of Western Australia, Perth, 27-30 November.

2017: Panellist:  Innovation in European and Australian Mobilities Workshop, Hawke EU Centre, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia, 28-29 August.

2017:‘Disaster Research: Time for a Mobilities Turn?’, Mobile Cultures of Disaster, Hawke EU Centre, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia, 22-24 March.

2016: with Shinya Uekusa: ‘Vulnerable and Resilient? Immigrants and Refugees in Disasters’, Conference Proceedings of Building Resilience to Address the Unexpected, 6th International Conference on Building Resilience, University of Auckland, 7-9 September.

2016: ‘Electricity and Urban Vulnerability: A Sociology of Power’, The Futures We Want: Global Sociology and the Struggles for a Better World, 3rd International Sociological Association Forum of Sociology, Vienna, Austria, July 10-14. 

2016: ‘Political Economy and Everyday Disaster’, The Futures We Want: Global Sociology and the Struggles for a Better World, 3rd International Sociological Association Forum of Sociology, Vienna, Austria, July 10-14.

2015: 'Beck's Risk Society Thesis: A Critical Appraisal', Children of the Revolutions, Sociological Association of Aotearoa New Zealand annual conference, University of Waikato, 9-11 December.

2015: 'Look no Further than the Exterior: Corruption in Godzone?' Corruption Downunder Workshop, The University of Auckland, 30 November. 

2015: 'Mobile Disasters: Comprehending today's Catastrophes', Neoliberalism and Contemporary Challenges for the Asia-Pacific, The Australian Sociological Association Conference, James Cook University, Cairns, Australia, 23-26 November.

2015: 'How to Perform a Social Autopsy: Sociology, Heatwaves and Health-centred Risk Reduction', Dealing with Disasters Conference (DwD 2015), Northumbra University, Newcastle, England, 17-18 September.

2015: 'Mobile Disasters: Comprehending Today's Catastrophe's', Mobilities in a Dangerous World: 6th Mobilities Symposium, University of Waikato, Hamilton, 25-26 June. 

2014:‘The Sociological Significance of Personal Medical Devices’, The Social Impact of the Canterbury Earthquakes, Sociological Association of Aotearoa (New Zealand) annual conference, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, 4-5 December. 

2014: Keynote: 'Theorising Personal Medical Devices: Some Sociological Considerations', Symposium – Theorising Personal Medical Devices: New Perspectives, Wellcome Trust/University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England, 18-19 September.

2014: 'Forget the Future: The Time is Now', Unnatural Futures, Arts Environment Research Group, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia, 3-4 July.

2013: ‘Apocalypse Now: Some Suggestions for the Sociology of Disasters’, Re-imagining Sociology, Re-imagining Society, Sociological Association of Aotearoa (New Zealand) annual conference, The University of Auckland, 2-4 December.

2013: Keynote: ‘Everyday Disaster’, Disaster! A Symposium, Postcolonial Studies Research Network, University of Otago, Dunedin, 27-29 November.

2013: ‘Dealing with Disasters: Some Warnings from Science and Technology Studies (STS) ’, Dealing with Disasters (DwD 2013) together with the 4th Conference of the IDRiM Society (2013), Northumbria University, Newcastle, England, 4-6 September.

2012: ‘Blackouts: A Sociology of Power (Failure)’, Sociology in an Age of Austerity, British Sociological Association Annual Conference, University of Leeds, Leeds, England, 11-13 April.

2011: with H. BYRD: ‘Blackouts: A Sociology of Power (Failure)’, Looking Forward: Trends, Horizons and Utopias, Sociological Association of Aotearoa (New Zealand) annual conference, Victoria University of Wellington, 7-9 December.

2011: ‘Slow Violence: Some Notes on a Crisis to Come’, Citizenship in an Era of Global Crisis, Postcolonial Studies Research Network, University of Otago, 28-30 November.

2011: with H. BYRD: ‘What Happens When the Lights Go Out? Adapting to Power Loss: A Study of Power Outages in 26 countries over 10 years’, 7th APRU Research Symposium on Multi-Hazards around the Pacific Rim, University of Auckland, 24-26 November.

2011: ‘Waiting to Happen: The Accident in Social Theory’, Social Relations in Turbulent Times, 10th Conference of the European Sociological Association, Geneva, Switzerland, 7-10 September.

2011: with H. BYRD: ‘Infrastructural Failure and Disrupted Mobilities: When the Power Goes Out’, Mobilities and Neighbourhoods: 2nd Mobilities Symposium, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand, 15-16 July.

2011: ‘Settling In: The 'White Natives' of New Zealand’, 60 Years of Sociology, British Sociological Association Annual Conference, London School of Economics, London, England, 6-8 April.

Peer reviewing:

Journal Articles: AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples (SAGE: NZ); Australian Journal of Psychology (Wiley: Australia); British Journal of Sociology (Wiley-Blackwell: UK); Buildings (MDPI: Switzerland), Culture Unbound: Journal of Current Cultural Research (Linköping University: Sweden); Environmental Sociology (Routledge: UK); Geografiska Annaler B: Human Geography (Blackwell: Sweden); International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction (Elseveir: UK); International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters (ISA: USA); International Review of the Red Cross (ICRG/Cambridge University Press); Journal of Environmental Planning and Management (Taylor & Francis: UK); Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society (Emerald: UK); Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand (Taylor & Francis: NZ); Journal of Sociology (SAGE: Australia); Nature + Culture (Berghahn: Germany); New Zealand Sociology (SAANZ: NZ); Philosophy and Technology (Springer: US); Przestrzeń Społeczna/ Social Space  (Poland); RIMCIS: International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences (Spain); SITES: A Journal of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies (ASAANZ/University of Otago); Siyasal: Journal of Political Sciences (Istanbul University: Turkey); Social Science and Medicine (Elsevier: UK); The Sociological Review (Wiley-Blackwell: UK); Sociology (SAGE: UK); Southeastern Geographer (University of North Carolina Press: USA); Technology in Society: An International Journal (Elsevier: USA); Theory, Culture & Society (SAGE: UK); Time & Society (SAGE: UK); Tourist Studies (SAGE: UK); Women’s Studies Journal (Women's Studies Association/Otago University Press, New Zealand)

Journals: Violence: A Journal, Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’homme (SAGE: Paris)

Books: Anthem Press (UK), Auckland University Press (NZ), Bloomsbury Academic (UK), Cengage Learning (Australia), Palgrave Macmillan (UK), Palgrave Pivot (UK), Pearson (NZ), Routledge (USA), SAGE (UK), UNESCO (EOLSS: UK)

Grants: Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NOW) Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek, Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Fund - Fast Start Grant, Auckland University of Technology - internal grant 

Universities: Sociology Programme, Victoria University of Wellington, Pre-approval Panel, Conflict Resolution BA and MA, AUT

Prizes: The SAANZ Postgraduate Student Essay Prize

University/Profesional Service:

President, the Sociological Association of Aoteroa New Zealand

Head of Disciplinary Area, Sociology (2014-2017)

University Discipline Committee (2014-2017)

Previous includes: Associate Dean (Students), University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committee (UAHPEC), Member at Large, Executive of the Association of University Staff (Auckland)


Co-editor in Chief, Journal of Sociology: 2017-2020

Editorial Board, Journal of Cultural Analysis and Social Chnage: 2018-

Editorial Board/Book Reviews Editor, New Zealand Sociology: 2017-

Subject Editor/Language Editor, Przestrzeń Społeczna/Social Space (Poland): 2012         

Associate Editorial Board Member of Sociology (United Kingdom), the journal of the British Sociological Association (2010-2013)

Editor of special editions of the Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society and New Zealand Sociology

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Matthewman, S. D., & Huppatz, K (2020). A Sociology of Covid-19. Journal of Sociology10.1177/1440783320939416
  • Matthewman, S. D., & Byrd, H (2020). From “perfect green dream” to “total failure”: The rise and fall of Christchurch’s District Energy Scheme. New Zealand Sociology, 35 (1), 177-202. Related URL.
  • Brickell, C., McManus, R., McLennan, G., Matthewman, S., & Spoonley, P. (2019). Exploring Society: Sociology for New Zealand Students (4th). Auckland, New Zealand: Auckland University Press. Pages: 508. Related URL.
  • Ahmadian, E, Byrd, H., Sodagar, B, Matthewman, S., Kenney, C, & Mills, G (2019). Energy and the form of cities: the counterintuitive impact of disruptive technologies. Architectural Science Review, 62 (2), 145-151. 10.1080/00038628.2018.1535422
  • MacArthur, J. L., & Matthewman, S. (2018). Populist resistance and alternative transitions: Indigenous ownership of energy infrastructure in Aotearoa New Zealand. Energy Research and Social Science, 43 (24), 16-24. 10.1016/j.erss.2018.05.009
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Julie MacArthur
  • Matthewman, S. (2017). Mobile disasters: Cata strophes in the age of manufactured uncertainty. Transfers, 7 (3), 6-22. 10.3167/TRANS.2017.070303
  • Matthewman, S. (2017). Bruno Latour. In R. Stones (Ed.) Key sociological thinkers (pp. 364-374). London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Matthewman, S. (2017). Theorising personal medical devices. In R. Lynch, C. Farrington (Eds.) Quantified lives and vital data: Exploring health and technology through personal medical devices (pp. 17-43). London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.


Contact details

Primary office location

HSB - EAST - Bldg 201E
Level 9, Room 924
New Zealand

Web links