Simon Stewart is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Director of the Centre for European and International Studies Research. He is also the Impact Lead for University of Portsmouth's REF entry for Area Studies. Before arriving at Portsmouth in 2008, he worked as a Fellow in the department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He completed his doctorate at University of Sussex (2006), where he also taught a wide range of courses. Prior to that, he was awarded a Master of Arts degree in Postmodernism, Literature and Contemporary Culture (1996, Royal Holloway), and a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology (1995, Portsmouth). In 2015 and 2017, Simon was the external examiner for PhDs at La Trobe University (Australia).
Simon's research expertise is primarily in the sociology of culture and, in particular, the sociology of evaluative judgements. His current research is concerned with theorizing our day-to-day interactions with cultural objects through which our aesthetic and ethical judgements – individual and collective – are formulated, and through which we decide what is to be prized. In his theoretical and empirical research, he examines why (and on what basis) we like what we like and how cultural value accrues and dissipates over time.
Simon is the author of Culture and the Middle Classes (Ashgate, 2010). His second single-authored monograph, A Sociology of Culture, Taste and Value (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), explores sociological debates in relation to culture, taste and value. It examines the tensions between formal and substantive rationality; between courses of action which are instrumentally rational and those which are formulated with particular cultural values in mind; between impersonal forces and creative impulses; between the logic of profit and the ambiguity of aesthetics; between a tendency to like what we are trained to like and affective or contrarian impulses. Simon Stewart argues that sociology can contribute to debates about aesthetic value and to an understanding of how people evaluate and seeks to contribute to alternative approaches that draw attention to other values and to other ways of valuing.
Simon's recent work on aesthetic value and evaluative judgements has appeared in journals such as Cultural Sociology, The Sociological Review, Sociological Research Online, European Journal of Cultural Studies and Distinktion:Journal of Social Theory. He is currently writing and researching a new book on taste and is part of a Faculty-funded project on 'Celebrity, Citizenship and Status'. He is also carrying out research on evaluative judgements in independent literary publishing.
Since 2015, Simon has been involved in an interdisciplinary project on cancer research with Cyril Rauch (University of Nottingham).
Simon is the co-coordinator of the Sociology of Culture Research Network of the European Sociological Association. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Cultural Analysis and Social Change.