Simon Stewart is a Reader in Sociology and Director of the Centre for European and International Studies Research. He is the Principal Investigator on an 18-month ESRC/UKRI funded project, 'Homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic: homeless migrants in a global crisis' (£182,866). 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 is working with colleagues from University of Portsmouth, University of Sussex, and St Mungo's, the homeless charity, on his project on migrant homelessness. A particular focus of the study is the experience of non-UK nationals. Government efforts have helped provide emergency accommodation for thousands of homeless people during the crisis, but concerns remain about how homeless migrants with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) can be supported in the longer-term. The project is examining the life stories of migrants in relation to their experiences of homelessness during the coronavirus crisis.
Simon's research expertise is primarily in cultural sociology/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. Simon is a member of the Democratic Citizenship group at Portsmouth and also the Faculty-funded project on 'Celebrity, Citizenship and Status'.
Simon is the coordinator of the Sociology of Culture Research Network of the European Sociological Association. He was on the organising committee of the recent European Sociological Association Sociology of Culture (RN7) 8th midterm conference, 10th–12th March 2021 at the University of Helsinki, Finland.
Simon is the Editor-in-Chief (and Founding Editor) of Journal of Cultural Analysis and Social Change.