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Matthew Sparkes


Matthew began his academic career in Leeds completing a BA in Sociology. After various jobs, including a Debt Advisor role for a charity, Matthew moved to York to complete an MA in Social Research. His master’s thesis was based on financial inequality and drew its analysis from the most current data on social class provided by the BBC’s Great British Class Survey (GBCS).

From 2011, Matthew remained in York to work towards a PhD in economic sociology. Using archival databases, Matthew’s research examines the policy changes that facilitated the proliferation of credit from the 1980 onwards, along with the political and economic rationality driving the implementation of those policies. Following on from this analysis, his research then explores the way credit is utilised by individuals in the formation of their identities, with a particular focus on social class processes in systems of amplifying inequality, before exploring the impacts falling into debt, and the retraction of credit, has on the individuals self-concept and social position. For this in-depth interviews were carried out across Britain with people using the services of StepChange Debt Charity to help them with their financial difficulties.

While at York Matthew worked as a tutor in both social theory and research methods, and also as a supervisor for a programme designed to encourage individuals from under-represented groups to pursue a university education. In addition, Matthew completed a professional qualification in teaching and is now an ‘associate fellow’ of the Higher Education Academy (HEA).

In October 2014, Matthew joined the Department of Sociology as a Teaching Associate in quantitative methods.

  • Position: Teaching Associate
  • E-mail:
  • Tel: 01223 (7)67172
  • Address: Department of Sociology, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RQ
  • Research Interests: Social class and identity; credit, debt and consumer society; social theory; social research methods; leadership and pedagogy.
  • Dr Sparkes supervises graduate students