School of Politics and International Relations

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Mathew Humphrey

Professor of Political Theory, Faculty of Social Sciences



Professor of Political Theory and Co-Director, Centre for the Study of Political Ideologies.

I left school at 16 and joined what was then British Rail, on the footplate. After a decade or so I'd had enough of driving trains around the Kent countryside, and couldn't imagine doing it for another forty years without succumbing to some kind of madness. Education seemed like a way out, so I took some part-time A-levels, applied to go to university, and eleven years after joining BR I left, heading for Bath to read Economics and Politics as a mature student. It was culture shock, but I adapted rather better than I ever expected to, and came out with a good enough degree to then go to Oxford for an MPhil. If Bath was like going to another country, Oxford was like interplanetary travel. Deeply weird but, after some deep breaths, very inspiring - and a place where I met some wonderful, smart, funny people.

Now Professor of Political Theory and Editor of the Journal of Political Ideologies.

DPhil, Nuffield College, Oxford 1998

MPhil, Nuffield College, Oxford, 1995

BSc. Economics and Politics (1st Class Hons), Bath, 1993

Expertise Summary

Theories of Ideology

Environmental Political Theory

Riders' Rights and the Politics of Motorcycling

Research Summary

My current research stems from an interest in 'everyday' political thinking. I have researched the ideologies of motorcycle riders-rights groups, and I am now working with some of these groups as… read more

Recent Publications

I am interested in supervising students who want to work in the following areas:

  • Political ideology/ideologies
  • Theories of ideology
  • Environmental political theory
  • The politics of motorcycling/powered two-wheeled transport

Supervision as first- or co-supervisor to successfully completed PhDs:

Marco Genovese (successfully defended 2021)

Wil Knight (successfully defended 2018)

Zeynep Clulow (successfully defended, 2018)

Marianna Poborezhskaya (successfully defended 2013)

Eloise Harding (successfully defended 2012)

David Wills (successfully defended 2008)

David Layfield (successfully defended 2006)

Andrew Robinson (successfully defended 2005)

Current Research

My current research stems from an interest in 'everyday' political thinking. I have researched the ideologies of motorcycle riders-rights groups, and I am now working with some of these groups as 'impact partners' for a project on the role of 'powered two-wheelers' (PTWs) in transport planning in the UK.

Related publication: Humphrey, M & Andersson-Hudson, J (2022) '"The Constant is that Governments Regard Motorcyclists as a Problem": Riders' Rights Activists in the United Kingdom on Threats, Political Mobilization, and Freedom' International Journal of Motorcycle Studies Vol 18.

My research involves the conceptual analysis of ideological discourse, in particular the study of political ideas as they operate at the 'everyday' level. Recent work in this field includes a conceptual history of the idea of 'authenticity' across various domains, and an analysis of crowd-sourced comments and images on key political concepts such as justice, freedom, and community. Other publications include:

  1. Humphrey, M., Umbach, M & Clulow, Z. (forthcoming 2019) 'The Political is Personal: An Analysis of Crowd-Sourced Political Ideas and Images from a Massive Open Online Course' Journal of Political Ideologies 24(2)
  2. Authenticity: The Cultural History of a Political Concept London: Palgrave Pivot (Jan 2018) ISBN: 978-3-319-68565-6 (50% with M. Umbach).

From 2015-2017 I was also a lead-educator on a 'Massive Open Online Course' Propaganda and Ideology in Everyday Life, convened in conjunction with The British Library.

My other main area of interest is in environmental politics. I have two recently completed projects in this area.

1. I led the UoN Social Science strand for 'ENOS: Enabling Onshore CO2 Storage in Europe'. This was a multidisciplinary Euro12.3m Horizon 2020 funded project working with partners in The Netherlands, Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic and elsewhere, working to test the viability of onshore CO2 storage technology, from experimental work to pilot sites.

2. The second area of work explored public attitudes to shale gas in the UK. University of Nottingham surveys on public attitudes to shale gas have been running since 2012 and have featured prominently media stories about shale gas development.

Related publications:

  1. Andersson-Hudson, J., Rose, J., Humphrey, M., Knight, W., and O'Hara, S., 2019, 'The Structure of Attitudes Towards Shale Gas Extraction in the United Kingdom'. Energy Policy, 129, pp.693-697.
  1. Stedman, R.C., Evesen, D, O'Hara, S.L. and Humphrey, M., 2016. 'Comparing the relationship between knowledge and support for hydraulic fracturing between residents of the United States and the United Kingdom' Energy Research and Social Science. 20, 2016, pp.142-148
  1. Andersson-Hudson, J, Knight, W, Humphrey, M and O'Hara, Sarah, 2016. 'Exploring support for shale gas extraction in the United Kingdom' Energy Policy. 98 (November), 2016, pp.582-589

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