Dr Simon Speck

Position: Senior Lecturer in Sociology

College: College of Business, Law and Social Sciences

Department: Law, Criminology and Social Sciences

Subject area: Social Science

Research Centre: Centre for Society, Religion and Belief

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I teach modules across all three years of the Sociology degree programme with particular responsibility for the social theory 'strand'.  I also supervise PhD students and am responsible for co-ordinating the Erasmus European Exchange Programme in Sociology.

Teaching responsibilities

I am responsible for module leadership of the social theory 'strand' across the three years of the Sociology programme and for a number of modules on substantive topics. I teach the first year modules 'Thinking Sociologically' and 'Sociology of Childhood and Youth', the second year module 'Capitalism, Culture & Class: Social Theory in Classical Modernity', and the third year modules 'Power, Discourse and Danger: Social Theory Today', 'Globalisation and Social Change' and 'Humour and Society'. I am also module leader for the Stage 3 double-module 'Independent Studies'.

Research interests

My research interests are grounded in an engagement with classical and contemporary social theory as it is rooted in the 'continental' tradition of modern philosophy and as it enables an understanding of the social, cultural and political challenges of the present. I have undertaken research on the continuing relevance of the Marxian theoretical legacy, the shifting significance of religion in contemporary society and the reconceptualisation of 'modernity' in current social theory. I am currently researching the reasons for the ubiquity of humour, laughter and comic phenomena in contemporary culture.

Membership of professional bodies

I am a member of the International Society for the Study of Religion and of the British Sociological Association.



  • BA (Hons) in Philosophy, University of Essex
  • MA in Philosophy, University of Sussex
  • PhD, University of Warwick.


Recent publications


  • 'Contemporary social theory and religion: The marginalization of religion in theories of 'late', 'reflexive' and 'liquid' modernity' in Richard King (ed) Theory/Religion/Critique: Classic and Contemporary Approaches. New York: Columbia University Press. Forthcoming: publication in 2017
  • 'Just Enough', Radical Philosophy 179 May/June 2013: 46-8
  • 'Religion, Individualization and Consumerism: Constructions of Religiosity in 'Liquid' and 'Reflexive Modernity' in Francois Gauthier & Tuomas Martikainen (eds) (2013) Religion in Consumer Society: Brands, Consumers and Markets. Farnham: Ashgate
  • 'Ulrich Beck's "Reflecting Faith": Individualization, Religion and the Desecularizing of Reflexive Modernity'. Sociology, 47/1 (2013): 157-72.


Recent conferences


  • "The power of the image: The critical potential of the political cartoon in the age of self-satirising authority", paper presented at 'Abusing Power: The visual politics of satire' conference at the University of Brighton, September 23 to 24 2016
  • "Comedy's sacred: Laughter, religious offence and comic reflexivity", paper presented at 'Mock the weak: Comedy and the politics of representation' conference at the University of Teeside/Stockton ARC, September 14 to 15 2016
  • "'Whoops Apocalypse': The Comedy of Risk and Reflexive Modernity", paper presented at 'Risk and Rapture: Apocalyptic Ideology in Late Modernity' conference at the Centre for Faith and Public Policy, University of Chester, September 11 2013
  • "Uncivil Society", paper presented at 'Nationalism, Identity, and Belief' symposium, University of Derby, March 25 2013
  • "Cosmopolitanism or fundamentalism? Constructions of religion in contemporary social theory", paper presented at International Society for the Study of Religion conference, Aix-en-Provence, June 30 to July 1 2011
  • "Desecularising reflexive modernity: Ulrich Beck’s A God of One’s Own", presented at British Sociological Association Sociology of Religion Conference, Woodbrook, Birmingham, April 11-13 2011
  • "The comedy of reflexive modernity", paper presented at British Sociological Association Annual Conference, London School of Economics, April 6 to 8 2011.


In the media

I have commentated on social, cultural and political trends for BBC Radio Derby and written for The Derby Evening Telegraph.

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